Goldschmidt, Kipnis deserving of high praise
JUL 01, 2013 5:23p ET
Specifically, Overbay recalls a sequence from Aug. 25, 2011, when Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer off Nationals reliever Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning of a game the D-backs won 8-1.
Overbay said he told Goldschmidt, “You will get a good pitch, a fastball or a changeup. It’s hard to see the difference (in arm speed). You almost have to sit on one, or else you’ll get caught in between and foul pitches off.”
So, what happened?
“He took two fastballs, and at least one was right down the middle,” Overbay said. “I had a feeling he was sitting on a change. But I kind of saw Gibby (manager Kirk Gibson) out of the corner of my eye. I could see him getting a little mad at him taking those fastballs.
“I thought, ‘I hope he gets a changeup and hits it really far. If he doesn’t, he’ll be called into the office.’ Well, he hit a home run. He sat on it. He didn’t panic. The confidence he has in his game plan is pretty good.”
Take a guess: Which player has the highest OPS of any second baseman in the American League?
Not Robinson Cano. Not Dustin Pedroia. Not Howie Kendrick or Ian Kinsler.
Nope, the leader is Jason Kipnis of the Indians — the surprising Indians, who on Sunday tied the Tigers for first place in the AL Central.
Kipnis, 26, the former Arizona State star, stands almost no chance of overtaking Cano in the All-Star fan balloting. He might not make the team at all, considering Pedroia’s all-around brilliance and Kendrick’s scorching performance in June.
Still, consider the OPS standings at second:
Pedroia rates as easily the best defender of the group, according to John Dewan’s plus-minus ratings on BillJames.com. But Kipnis also leads in stolen bases, with 19 successes in 24 attempts.
Whether Kipnis makes the AL team or not, he is becoming a star — not that you would have viewed him that way in April, when he batted .200 with a .555 OPS.
“The thing that most impressed me is how he struggled in spring training and struggled at the start of the season, but took it in stride, stuck to his approach and continued with the same routine,” teammate Mike Aviles says.
“He knew what worked for him. You don’t see that a lot with a younger player. He could have hit the panic button in a hurry, and it could have been all downhill. But he knew he was a good player. He knew he was going to get out of it.”
Said Kipnis: “I’ve always had a lot of confidence in myself. You get up here, you learn how long the season is, how ups and downs are part of the game. It’s just going to happen.
“Especially early on in your career, you want to stay away from thinking, ‘I don’t know if I belong up there. This is too tough.’ ”
It’s not too tough for Kipnis, a left-handed hitter who had a big first half last season before slumping in the second. So far this season, he is the game’s best hitter for average at going to the opposite field.
Kipnis is 37 for 69 going the other way, a .536 average. His .957 slugging percentage to the opposite field ranks third in the majors, behind only Yasiel Puig and Chris Davis, both of whom are at 1.086.
Is Kipnis an All-Star? Sure looks like it.
“I got close last year,” Kipnis said. “But you want to talk about a hard position to crack — with AL second base, there are some guys who need to be in there every single year, and deservedly so. Cano, Pedroia, all of them. But every player would love to be in the All-Star Game. It’s a dream of everyone’s. Hopefully, it comes true this year. If not, we try again next year."
Click here for the rest of this week's Around The Horn.