Jason Kipnis is proving to be an excellent signing for the Chicago Cubs in 2020.
Just like Rajai Davis, Jason Kipnis almost played the role of a villain against the Chicago Cubs in 2016. In Game 4 of the World Series, he hit a home run against his childhood team that put the game away and put the Cleveland Indians within one win of ruining our dream season. Then there was the foul ball in the ninth inning of Game 7 of Aroldis Chapman.
When the Cubs signed Kipnis this past winter, the expectations weren’t too high. Most thought that he would be just another long-shot option at second base on a team filled with them. Indeed, it had appeared that his best days were behind him.
Instead, Kipnis, at age 33, is experiencing a career revival of sorts on the North Side of Chicago. The left-handed-hitting second baseman enters play on Wednesday against his old team in Cleveland, already boasting a 0.5 WAR. So far, he’s 7-for-19 with two home runs and a big-time 1.349 OPS.
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Now, it will be tough to keep this pace up, but the early signs are very encouraging. For all the grief the Cubs’ front office took this past offseason for being, let’s say, frugal with their money, right now they are looking pretty smart for making this move.
Kipnis might have been in the “so overrated he’s underrated” category coming into this season. It’s not like he’s been completely unproductive since 2016; for example, in 2018, he hit 18 home runs and drove in 75. His OPS has been down significantly, but it’s interesting that so many teams overlooked him heading into this season.
It appears that David Ross will be using Kipnis along with Nico Hoerner primarily at second base; perhaps this is the best way to use Kipnis at this stage of his career. He’s been much better in his career against right-handers than against left-handers, and that’s how Ross primarily has used him so far. Give Ross credit for getting a lot out of Kipnis to this point.
Kipnis may have brought up some bad feelings for many Cubs fans heading into this season, but if he continues on this pace, he will quickly win his new fans over, if he hasn’t done so already. Let’s hope that he continues to bring a potent bat and veteran leadership to this team.