It’s highly likely that people who’re reading this article follow the Cleveland Indians very closely. You spend your nights watching the team, can identify every player by his batting stance, and keep close tabs—in the long, sweltering nights Major League Baseball endures—on who’s been playing well, and who deserves to have an empty cup of beer tossed in his general direction from Progressive Field’s left field bleachers.
But if you follow the sport loosely, here and there flicking on a game or spending idle summer nights on a couch with your iPad, chances are you’ve yet to be acquainted with 26-year-old Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. His name may have floated in your ear at one point or another over the past couple years, but it’s officially time to take note on just how awesome he’s been this season.
Whether you distinguish yourself as a die-hard or a casual follower, it might surprise you to know that over the past 30 days, no hitter in baseball has been more successful at the plate than Kipnis. Not Mike Trout. Not Miguel Cabera. Not Chris Davis. Nobody.
According to Fangraphs, over the past 30 days Kipnis has batted an ungodly .398, good for second best in all of baseball behind only Hanley Ramirez. For the 121 plate appearance sample size, Kipnis’ on-base percentage has reached an exceptional .496. No player in baseball was higher, and few players ever reach that number over the course of a sample size that solid.
Kipnis’ slugging percentage has been .645, lower than only Cabrera, Davis, Ramirez, and Raul Ibanez.
How’s he doing it? Well, for starters he’s been drawing more walks than normal. For the entire season Kipnis is walking in 12% of all his at bats, which is only 2% higher than his career average. But over the past 30 days he’s walking 18.2% of the time. Only Robinson Cano and Evan Longoria posted higher rates.
Kipnis’ bat has also arrived in timely situations, smacking 25 RBI which trails only Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera. His 37 total hits rank 10th in all of baseball, as do his seven stolen bases.
His strike-out rate of 18.2% over the past 30 days is exactly four percentage points below his season average of 22.2%, and when stacked up against every other qualified hitter in baseball ranks at a respectable 84th. (Better than Joey Votto, Justin Upton, and Freddie Freeman.)
On Tuesday night, performing on arguably the biggest stage of his career to this point (silly to say about an All-Star game, but for Kipnis it’s true), he was responsible for one of the 2013 Mid-Summer Classic’s three RBI, with a booming double.
So I guess the biggest question worth asking is can Kipnis keep the stove hot through August and September? Obviously it’s asking a lot. Thirty days is somewhat significant, but it’s still only about 15% of a season—even if this particular stretch included a four game road trip against the Baltimore Orioles and a four game home stand against the Detroit Tigers.
The most alarming footnote that has to be mentioned is his batting average on balls in play, which, over the past 30 days, leads the league at an astronomically insane .458 (For the season, Kipnis’ BABIP is .361, tied with Yadier Molina and Manny Machado.)
That number will surely come down to Earth, causing the rest of his stats to drop too.
But still, so far Kipnis’ season has looked more like a plane taking off than a rollercoaster prepping for a calamitous fall. Over the next two months it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up his remarkable overall play. Either way, there’s a good chance this time next year both casual fans and diehards will be talking about Jason Kipnis.