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Mets Fans Should Monitor Jason Kipnis’ Production

During the offseason, there were reports the New York Mets had a deal in place for Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, but the deal never did happen.  As noted by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports, the purported trade wasn’t killed over prospects, but rather, “it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.”

The money the Mets would have given to Kipnis eventually went to Jay Bruce despite the team already having Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto tabbed as the corner outfielders over the next three seasons.

This is important to note because after all the moving parts to this offseason, the Mets have a trio of players in Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, and Jose Reyes, who both struggle defensively and against right-handed pitching.  Moreover, the triumvirate are also injury prone.

That’s where things were interesting with Kipnis.  Like most anyone who was on the Mets roster last year, Kipnis’ 2017 season was a nightmare.  He had shoulder and hamstring issues.  While we can reasonably believe the hamstring issues will be resolved heading into this season, there could be room for doubt over Kipnis’ shoulder.

At this point, it is important to remember this wasn’t the Carlos Gomez trade.  The Mets killed that deal over physicals.  The Kipnis deal was killed because the Mets couldn’t justify paying him $30.7 million over the next two years.  That’s really interesting.

In 2015 and 2016, Kipnis was a .289/.357/.460 hitter who averaged 42 doubles, 16 homers, and 67 RBI.  It was part of the reason why he averaged a 4.3 WAR over that two year span.

The last time a Mets position player had a WAR that high was Curtis Granderson in 2015 when he had a 5.1 WAR.  The last time the Mets had a position player have consecutive seasons with a 4.0 WAR or greater was David Wright in 2012-2013.

The inability to maintain that high level of production when healthy was not an impediment to the Mets giving large free agent deals to Cespedes or Bruce.  However, for some reason, it was an impediment for the Mets acquiring a player who would have resolved their second base situation for the next two seasons.

With Kipnis, it’s more than just those two years too.  Since 2012, he has posted a 3.9 WAR or higher in four of the last six seasons.  For the sake of comparison, Bruce has had a WAR that high just twice in his 10 year career, and Cabrera has done it just twice in his 11 year career.  For both players, those high WAR seasons came a long time ago.

For Kipnis, he did it recently, and he appears to be that player again.  Yes, Spring Training stats are flawed and shouldn’t be used as a barometer for future success, but Kipnis is 8-14 with five homers.  If nothing else, it tells us he’s healthy and primed to be the 4.0+ win player he has been.

We can’t say the same about Bruce or Cabrera even when they are healthy.  However, for some reason the Mets found the money to pay them and not Kipnis.  In the end if you want a real barometer for how good an offseason the Mets have had, watch how Kipnis produces this season.

If Kipnis is Kipnis while Bruce and Cabreara are Bruce and Cabrera, the team should have some explaining to do.

21 thoughts on “Mets Fans Should Monitor Jason Kipnis’ Production”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    Metsdaddy, did anyone ever say who the prospects were in that deal?

    You say the triumvirate is injury prone, but Reyes and Cabrera played the most games of anyy Met, and Wilmer had a freak broken nose off his own foul ball. Kipnis injuries are much more concerning — a right hamstring that came back three times and a strained rotator cuff that landed him on the DL…a strain turning into a torn rotator cuff at 31 would be career threatening.

    You have swiped at the Bruce trade repeatedly, but the Mets were not set in the OF with truly injury prone Lagares and actually injured Conforto and perennially wincing Cespedes, We all love Nimmo, but I think of him as a five tool player with the tools being B at best,…..I think he may be playing a little over his head and I’m not sure I’d want him as a starter on a contending team. Bruce has been whatever the opposite of injury prone his whole career, and he is a possibility for time at first as well.

    That said, if Kipnis is healthy, I agree I would have rather given him the money then Bruce but for a reason you don’t list — his ability to play OF, even center, which was his early position. While it would be nice to see that he could be plugged in at another IF slot like Reyes/Cabrera/Flores, (he has never started even one game at any place in the IF but second) the OF angle is excellent.

    Just for the exercise of saying the Mets actually were weighing Bruce vs. Kipnis, I think the injury piece of it is that in Bruce they added a workhorse to an injury prone OF and in Kipnis they were bringing in an injury risk to a middle infield that wasn’t injury suspect last year.

    A perfect deal here would be to work Cabrera and his $8.5 mil into the deal in some formula to offset Kipnis’s 30 mil, since Cabrera will be extraneous.

    A healthy Kipnis in the spring here really does change the dynamic in an additional way, because Kipnis really dragged when he did get on the field last April….seems he is a guy that needs the spring.

    A Kipnis for Cabrera plus some prospects would be an awesome deal. Unlike Walker, Kipnis is a clear upgrade….even assuming it would slam the wallet shut for the rest of the year, I’d be down with it.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. They didn’t mention the prospects

      2. Playing the most games on an injury prone team doesn’t mean you’re not injury prone.

      3. Bruce has a history of knee issues and is now dealing with plantar fasciitis

      4. Like Kipnis, Walker is a clear upgrade over Cabrera

      1. OldBackstop says:

        “”1. They didn’t mention the prospects””
        Because it came out that Nimmo was offered to the Pirates….interesting how much they were thinking of OF time for Kipnis….
        “”2. Playing the most games on an injury prone team doesn’t mean you’re not injury prone.””
        Cabrera has averaged 142 games the last seven years. Reyes has been a partial utility player but he played in over 140 two of the last three years. Wilmer same utility but also over 100 the last three years. Why do you say injury prone?
        “3. Bruce has a history of knee issues and is now dealing with plantar fasciitis.”
        Bruce has averaged 151 games the past eight years.
        The guys in this wide discussion with injury issues are the guys who were the reason Bruce was brought in and the two guys you think they should bring in.
        “4. Like Kipnis, Walker is a clear upgrade over Cabrera”
        Kipnis is an upgrade over the three Mets who would see time there. Walker is clearly not anymore.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          1. The rumor was prospect price was lower than Nimmo because of Kipnis’ salary.

          2. Over the last three years, we’ve seen Cabrera’s games played decline, and during his two years on the Mets, we’ve seen him play through a number of injuries. As he ages, playing through injuries becomes increasingly difficult.

          Reyes was not a utility player last year. He was the Opening Day third baseman.

          3. Bruce has stayed on the field, but with his issues, it’s fair to question if he can keep that up.

          4. Walker had a higher WAR than Cabrera, Flores, and Reyes last year. So yes, he’s an upgrade.

    2. JjP says:

      If you’re not aware, Cabrera started with the Indians. They have zero interest in bringing back the guy who seriously underperformed for them in his prime.

  2. OldBackstop says:

    “”1. The rumor was prospect price was lower than Nimmo because of Kipnis’ salary.””
    Okay, that makes sense….altho the rumor I heard was straight up for McCutch, who only had $14.5 mil left, one year, 2018.

    “”2. Over the last three years, we’ve seen Cabrera’s games played decline, and during his two years on the Mets, we’ve seen him play through a number of injuries. As he ages, playing through injuries becomes increasingly difficult.””

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t count the hits and ignore the misses 🙂 Cabrera is 32, and he has declined in games the last three years 143, 141, 135.

    Walker is three months OLDER than Cabrera, and he has declined 151, 113, 111. with old man injuries like back surgery and a hamstring last year. There is no way you can say Cabrera is an old injury risk relative to Walker.

    Now, I just read that Walker is only getting minor league offers, and that is why — injuries. I also read that he was ticked at the way the Mets traded him last year, or something, and doesn’t want to come here anyway.

    “”Reyes was not a utility player last year. He was the Opening Day third baseman.””

    You are saying that in response to a question about injury prone and games played, and Reyes led the team with 145 games played last year. The utility comment referred to 2016.

    “”3. Bruce has stayed on the field, but with his issues, it’s fair to question if he can keep that up.””

    Not fair, not without saying it in relation to the others in the discussion. You can say that about any 30-something, except Kipnis and Walker DID miss significant time last year and Cabrera, Reyes and Bruce DIDN’T (and he is slightly younger, also). That is what I’m trying to tell you.

    “”4. Walker had a higher WAR than Cabrera, Flores, and Reyes last year. So yes, he’s an upgrade.”””

    Okay, let’s look at that. As I said, I think Cabrera should be cut a break to get his legs under him at second, and that is backed by my previous comment by defensive stat guru John Dewan, who said up to three years before a measurement like DRS or dWAR is fair to use.

    Cabrera was forced to split time almost equally in 2017 between his most comfortable position, SS, and second and third base. Even bouncing around like that his dWAR was only -0.9. Walker, in his most comfortable role at 2nd base, had a dWAR of -0.3.
    Now, first of all, that is a statistically irrelevant difference in a hand grenade number like dWAR, but you have to acknowledge the more difficult hand Cabrera was dealt in terms of positions.
    In oWAR. Cabrera was higher at 2.4 compared to 2.1 for Walker.
    In total WAR, Walker only was ahead of Cabrera by a statistically insignificant 1.5 to 1.1. Now, to the extent you might counter that WAR is a counting stat, sorta, and Cabrera played 24 more games more….yeah, but in a case like this where their defensive numbers were in the red (as Walker was the year before too), more games would have likely actually lowered Walker’s dWAR.
    So, net this out, this is insignificant. Even Tango has written that WAR can’t be used down to the tenths for comparison (much as DeWan said about DRS.)

    Look….at $8.5 mil for 2018, Cabrera isn’t going anywhere, unless it is in some sort of salary swap as we discussed for Kipnis. The Wilpons aren’t going to put $8.5 million in a guy that has hit .280 each of the last two years on the street where he will be hitting gappers against us for the Nationals in September. Not unless they have green stamps or a coupon or a roll of nickels.
    He is extremely similar to Cabrera, except for Walker’s injury fears. Would there be a use to sign Walker for a few million and let him compete for playing time? Not really. I suppose it is possible he would outright sparkle, be healthy, and lock down the second base job, but more realistically they would look at him and see a one position guy with a bad back.

    Walker ain’t a match for the Mets unless there is a major injury, and given the players involved, it is more likely that would be him.

    MD, what sort of deal do you think Walker will wind up with?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. Pirates asked for Nimmo for both McCutchen and Harrison. Mets said no to both.

      2. Walker has his injury issues too. However, when Walker’s on the field, he’s a better player.

      Also, Reyes wasn’t a utility player in 2016. Like last year, he was brought in to play third.

      3. Sorry, but you can’t dismiss a player’s nagging knee and plantar fasciitis just because it fits your narrative.

      4. Your argument is flawed when you begin with trying to “cut Cabrera a break.”

      No, you absolutely should not. He’s a professional who got to play his preferred position most of the year. By the way, his preferred position of SS gives him a higher weighted adjustment. Put another way, if he replicates his 2017 season while playing second, his WAR will go down.

  3. OldBackstop says:

    “”1. Pirates asked for Nimmo for both McCutchen and Harrison. Mets said no to both.””

    That was before Reyes and Bruce? I would have pulled the trigger on Harrison.

    “”2. Walker has his injury issues too. However, when Walker’s on the field, he’s a better player.””

    sigh….fine, maybe, barely, but he has a bad back and will cost money.

    “”Also, Reyes wasn’t a utility player in 2016. Like last year, he was brought in to play third.””

    He played 11 games out of 60 at SS. The question went to games played….Reyes had lots of problems that year, was in the minors, but he didn’t miss that time due to major injury. Which was the point.

    “””3. Sorry, but you can’t dismiss a player’s nagging knee and plantar fasciitis just because it fits your narrative.”””

    Dude, will you at least concede that Walker and Kipnis have bigger injury concerns in the wake of their 2017 seasons than Bruce or Cabrera? That is the topic at hand. Those guys missed major chunks with major injuries. I’ve written the numbers out three times. Have some debate integrity. That was the point, the injury risk of the guys you were headlining with articles.

    “””4. Your argument is flawed when you begin with trying to “cut Cabrera a break.””””

    Nitpicking over semantics. The concept that your parsing of small numbers on a guy in a new position wasn’t refuted by me, I quoted the inventor of the stat and everything. Have some debate integrity.

    ””No, you absolutely should not. He’s a professional who got to play his preferred position most of the year. By the way, his preferred position of SS gives him a higher weighted adjustment. Put another way, if he replicates his 2017 season while playing second, his WAR will go down.”””

    A weighted adjustment compares two stable players in their respective positions, not a guy in a window of adjustment and transition. I quoted the guys that invented your cited stats that your use of them was useless. Have some debate integrity.

    Do any readers think MD is right here? I feel like I’m talking to a wall.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      1. McCutchen before and Harrison after.

      2. It’s not barely. He’s better period.

      3. The point is they all have injury concerns. Those typically get worse with age. So no, not one of those players is a bigger risk than the others.

      4. You keep saying I’m citing a small size DRS, but you ignore the largest sample how those three players have not had a positive DRS season in nearly a decade. Again, show me something tangible showing that a position switch will suddenly make them a good defender.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        “””2. It’s not barely. He’s better period.”””
        I lied just to put the issue behind us. But Walker is not “better” than Cabrera outside the margin of error. And he had back and hamstring issues you are simply yelling over. Those are old man injuries….three hamstrings and a back surgery should be throwing up more red flags than the Chinese Army, Were you watching last year? Do you think we should maybe consider if people can show up? You say “Walker is better when he is on the field!” So is Joe Morgan, but his body isn’t up for it anymore.

        Before you pay a free agent, the number one question is “is he physically able to play?” Neil Walker, with back surgeries and strings of hamstrings, looks more done than ready. If we just want to go on back in the old days logic, sign Joe Morgan.

        “”””3. The point is they all have injury concerns. Those typically get worse with age. So no, not one of those players is a bigger risk than the others.”””

        really? No quantification?

        “””4. You keep saying I’m citing a small size DRS, but you ignore the largest sample how those three players have not had a positive DRS season in nearly a decade. Again, show me something tangible showing that a position switch will suddenly make them a good defender.”””

        You are utterly lost on proper use of DRS. You are imbuing it with wisdom its inventors rather desperately have long tried to dissuade us from applying to it. I quoted them. I’m not teaching an online statistics class, you need to do some reading.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          2. You saying Cabrera doesn’t make him better. All the offensive and defensive statistics and metrics point to Walker clearly being the better player.

          And the Morgan point is plain idiotic. I’m pointing out how Walker had a higher WAR than Cabrera LAST YEAR. Not two, three, four, or five years ago. IT WAS LAST YEAR.

          3. Players missed team. Players are dealing with injuries. Players got older. They’re all equally as likely to miss significant time.

          4. You can be nasty all you want, but at the end of the day, you’re still very wrong.

          Look at Cabrera, Reyes, and Flores’ DRS data. The last time anyone of them had a positive DRS was a decade ago. In no world is a decade’s worth of data insignificant.

          1. OldBackstop says:

            “”Look at Cabrera, Reyes, and Flores’ DRS data. The last time anyone of them had a positive DRS was a decade ago. In no world is a decade’s worth of data insignificant.””

            It is utterly insignificant when the position being discussed doesn’t have adequate data. It is precisely as significant as no data. So says the inventor of the data.

            And, say the data you cite was sufficient….the differences you cite between the players are all within the margin of error. They are all average to slightly average. “Positive” and “negative” are just a range on the spectrum of 30 plus, and you are citing a few points here and there.

            If Duda and Walker were Smith and Jones nobody would be writing a column saying the Mets needed two 30 plussers who play one position averagely at best and have utterly no speed. This is just nostalgia.

            What happened to your article raging that the Mets cockblocked all their prospects? What does bringing Walker back do to Cheech, Guillorme, Smith, etc.?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            1. If you ignore all the data to draw your own conclusions, what’s the point of arguing the data?

            2. Unless I’m mistaken, Walker and Duda were the only real remaining starting options at 1B and 2B. And if you’ll note, the articles were written during Spring Training. Previously, I advocated for Kendrick and Kipnis who were decidedly not former Mets.

            3. A one year deal for Walker ford nothing to block Cecchini, Guillorme, or Smith for the long term. Signing a stopgap is not the same as signing a vet to a multi-year deal thereby blocking the young players from ever getting a real chance.

  4. Pitching says:

    Plain and simple:

    The Mets are not going to overpay for Harrison nor Kipnis from this day forward.
    Nimmo is not available
    Robles will not travel north.
    Phil Evans is emerging as a threat to Wilmer’s roster spot
    Cabby will field 2nd quite well
    Guillemore is going to be here before Sept as Reyes plays his last season in NY
    Ty Kelly is at a min almost the equivalent of a Matt Reynolds yet may play five positions

    If the Mets can improve the table setters they will listen to anyone
    but who is available that is a three year solution?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Cabrera is a bad defender period. Stop ignoring all the data just because you like him.

      1. Pitching says:

        Ha ha
        “Because you like him”
        ha ha

        Even if his fielding at second was less than I project do you really feel you have adequately evaluated clubhouse intangibles well if not ever valued them at all?

        I do believe in an upgrade but the Mets are not paying him this year >$8m to do anything but start.

        If he got significant ABATs at third and 1st only then can I see SA not starting him at 2nd

        You have never addressed that there are no contracts for any pitcher for 2019 except the kid from Milwaukee.

        The only speed (not remotely elite) projected to be here in 2019 is Nimmo, unproven Rosario and Lagares

        You get a table setter w SB if not elite speed at any position at 30 I would agree with you 100%… at any position…

        Starting Duda, Walker, Wilmer should be never be discussed…

        1. metsdaddy says:

          1. Cabrera demanded a trade and only accepted a position switch when it helped get him out of Flushing. When he was a leader in that clubhouse, it completely fell apart. To that end, I ask, what intangibles are you referring?

          2. I don’t follow your Milwaukee pitcher point.

          3. Reyes hasn’t been a table setter since his first year in Toronto.

          4. It’s inane to argue starring Duda and Walker shouldn’t be discussed. Mets started Duda in 2015 and made a WS. Walker’s teams made it to three straight postseasons.

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