Early Mock Draft Risers: Jason Kipnis

With fantasy football coming to a close, no NHL and limited interest (for me, at least) in the NBA, mock draft season for fantasy baseball is in full swing. While some might think it early, now is probably the best time to start gauging interest in some of the players you were hoping to target this year. One player in particular that I am watching is Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis. I owned him in several leagues last year and would like to pick him up again for this season. His 14 home runs and 31 stolen bases should easily put him in the top 10 second basemen discussion, but with a .257 average and a brutal collapse, relatively speaking, in the second half, the hope is that his price tag won’t be too inflated.

Last season, as a rookie, Kipnis was on a number of people’s radar,but not enough where, if you coveted him, you would have to make a reach pick or overpay in your auction. His ADP ranged between 164 and 173, depending on what site you were using and in no draft I was in, real or mock, was he taken amongst the top 12 of second basemen. In fact, of the five leagues in which I owned him, I never took him earlier than the 18th round or paid more than $3. Given his overall numbers from last year, I certainly don’t expect to get him as cheap, but with a .233-33-3-27-11 line after the All Star break, there should be enough of a concern to scare some people off, right?

Hmmmm. Maybe not.

In the Rotographs Early Mock Draft, I took Kipnis with the eighth pick of the fifth round. There were already seven middle infielders taken within the first four rounds and Mike Petriello opened up the fifth with a selection of Ben Zobrist. When it got to me, I still had my choice of a few good names like Kipnis, Brandon Phillips and maybe even Aaron Hill, but after that, in my opinion, the drop-off was pretty steep. I didn’t want to wait too long on the position and given the presence of Michael Bourn and Jose Reyes on my roster, I thought another player with strong stolen base numbers would not only lock me in to the top third of the category, but I would also have steals to trade if this were to be a real league.

With the belief that Kipnis’ second half was more a result of a neck injury and possibly that of a rookie who just needed to pace himself more, I thought a fifth round pick was a pretty good value play for him. He wasn’t going to fall much further in this draft and in looking at other mocks around the web, there are plenty of people that are definitely dismissing his second half collapse. In two other industry mocks that I have seen, Kipnis went in the early fifth in one and actually went in the middle of the third in the other. Of 59 reporting drafts on Mock Draft Central, Kipnis has an ADP of 33.64 and the latest he has gone has been 46th. I’d say grabbing him here at pick number 56 is about as big a bargain as I’m going to see this offseason.

It’s probably a combination of his projected ceiling and position scarcity, but however you want to justify it, Kipnis will not come cheap this year. You can try to talk up his 2012 second half around your league with the hope of scaring some people off, but it is not going to be an easy sale; especially not with industry people staying so high on him. When the 2013 fantasy magazines start hitting shelves and sites begin to release their player rankings, you should expect to see Kipnis amongst the top at the position and subsequently remain high up on the ADP boards. He’ll definitely provide you stats worthy of such a selection, but he won’t bring you that same sneaky return value he had last year.




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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

12 Responses to “Early Mock Draft Risers: Jason Kipnis”

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  1. ralph says:

    Josh Rutledge should be drafted as a SS, but he’ll be 2B-eligible from the start of the season in some leagues, and should gain eligibility at 2B in the rest of leagues. I was curious how much difference there might be between him and Kipnis in 2013.

    It seems like Rutledge projects to be as much of an everyday player as Kipnis, contrary to the lower PA Bill James has projected for Rutledge. So, using the Bill James projections (I know… but they’re what’s available), and calculating Rutledge’s stats to the same number of PA as Kipnis gives the following:

    Kipnis: .274 AVG, 18 HR, 28 SB, 83 RBI, 100 R
    Rutledge: .277 AVG, 20 HR, 22 SB, 77 RBI, 100 R

    And I assume Rutledge has a much lower ADP than Kipnis does. Which is very interesting given how similar their projected lines are if they get the same number of PA. Although Bill James admittedly might be a little rosy on Rutledge, in terms of production per plate appearance.

    Do you think Kipnis could do significantly better than than the Bill James projection? I could see Kipnis adding a bit of extra power, personally.

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    • Stuck in a slump says:

      I’m not an expert, but I watched him a good bit last year and I really don’t think he’ll continue to be the offensive force he was over the span of his short time in the majors last year.

      I see him being more of a 15+ HR type with 10-12 steals. His BB% worries me, as does his overall contact rate. He’ll be useful as he looks like a decent fielder at 2B and there isn’t anyone who can provide better offense and defensive performance on the Rockies, so he should play every day. He could be a sneaky late round pick, and if he catches fire I’d sell high, but I would be hesitant to wait on him to be my SS in fantasy because of his contact and aggressive nature, but he’d be a great bench/reserve option given his eligibilities and playing time.

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      • ralph says:

        Rutledge is a pretty fascinating player from a projection standpoint. He’ll just be turning 24 as the 2013 season starts, so he could still have growth in him, plus he’s basically done nothing but perform hitting-wise. Except in September 2012.

        I wish FanGraphs had splits available for contact rate, because he got killed by strikeouts in September (24% K%, making your concerns very valid on the contact point) after putting up two very impressive K% months in July and August where he was in the 13-14% range. From the glimpses I caught of his ABs in September, he was getting killed by down-and-in sliders and curves.

        So I wonder if he was maintaining a similar contact rate in all three months and the increased K% in September was random variation, or if maybe my perceptions were accurate in his having an increased September swing-and-miss tendency based on pitchers exploiting that down-and-in hole.

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      • Tomcat says:

        Hard to say who Rutledge is for sure yet but I will say he was also seemingly exhausted in September I could be wrong but I am encouraged by his power away from Coors.

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      • cfg720 says:

        I think Rutledge’s power upside is high especially hittin at Coors. His contact rate is decent and similar to Kipins, but he doesn’t walk so that could hurt his SB opportunities. I do think he hits 20 HRs next year if he plays everyday but I do agree with your SB prediction though.

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  2. s_t_w says:

    Last year, in one of my leagues (5×5 Throwback/23 players/$130.00 buy in) he went for $7.00. Thought that was a bit steep. In a keeper league he graduated from my minors so I have have him for two more years at $2. No shortage of trade offers!

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  3. Patrick says:

    I’m keeping him for a Dollar in my main league..worth every penny in a thin posistion..

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  4. l1ay says:

    I don’t think mockdraftcentral’s compilation should be cited. Have you seen their ADP’s so far? It’s a joke.

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  5. soupman says:

    i’m not a huge kipnis fan this year. i’d rather just get espinosa later. or even uggla, utley or johnson. if you get two of the last 3, i’d imagine you’re going to end up with one of them returning to form without using a 5th round pick. that’s my thinking on january 2nd, anyway

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  6. JonathanAicardi says:

    You’re right to group Hill and Phillips with Kipnis as roto-wise there were some similarities, but when projecting forward I’m more inclined to lean skill-wise with younger players and in that sense Kipnis wasn’t that much better than Dustin Ackley, Neil Walker or Danny Espinosa either, all luck details being equal. Even beyond that you might consider Jose Altuve if you’re talking about possible overall production upside. What you could say about Kipnis and his post-injury possibility you might also say about Ackley after having bone-spurs removed, Neil Walker further removed from his injury and so on. Kipnis could have (and probably should have) been waited on, especially with a legit number 1 starter still on the board in Hamels. In a keeper league, things are a bit different, but even then I don’t know that Kipnis really separated himself.

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  7. Brownie says:

    By rule – I never reach for middle infielders – especially in round 5. If that’s the price for Kipnis – I’ll pass.

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  8. Kyle says:

    Kipnis is on my roster for $6 in an 8 Team 14H/9P AL Only Keeper League with a $260 cap (we actually go $26 with .10 increments but full dollars is easier to deal with for explanations).

    I can keep him and extend his contract for a year and have him this season for $11 and next season for $11.

    I can also extend him for two years and have him for for $16 for the next three seasons. Considering Cano went for $37, Kinsler went for $33, Pedroia for $32, Kendrick for $20 in 2012. And Ackley is currently pirced $4 dollars more than Kipnis based on any extensions.

    I think even at $16 his value is way better than anything else you could get, unless someone forgets that Altuve is in the league and you get him for 15.

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