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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org