Similarly to Carlos Santana playing left field in the World Series, the Indians are back at it again thinking of creative ways to improve the team. With the devastating injury to Bradley Zimmer, who broke his hand sliding into first base in Sunday night’s 18th win a row, that center field position is up for grabs.
Jason Kipnis, rehabbing from a hamstring injury, hasn’t played center field since 2009, but he has a bit of time to get re-acclimated to the outfield. This also leaves the 2nd base spot open, so the Indians can place Jose Ramirez at 2nd and have either Gio Urshela or Yandy Diaz at the hot corner. Flip that around and put Ramirez at 3rd and have someone else at 2nd.
The Indians completed this transition with Lonnie Chisenhall moving from 3rd to RF.
Zimmer was a fantastic center fielder and losing his defense will be difficult moving forward. No matter how comfortable Kip becomes, he won’t be as good as Zimmer. In the playoffs, it only takes one outfield blunder to ruin a game. Just think of Game 6 of the World Series…
On the year, Kipnis is batting .228 with 11 HR and 30 RBI in only 79 games played. It’s been a down year for the career 2nd baseman as last year he batted .275 with 23 HR and 82 RBI.
This will be an interesting experiment for a team to run that is absolutely red hot. Usually, when a club is winning so much, they don’t change much up. This scenario is different due to the Zimmer injury. The rookie was batting .241 with eight HR and 39 RBI in 101 games played. After a blazing hot start in the bigs, his bat certainly cooled off. However, his defense has always been sound.
Besides Kipnis, other options are Austin Jackson or Tyler Naquin. Davis is usually tossed out there when a left-handed pitcher is on the mound. Naquin is an average hitter at best and is shaky in center field. If Michael Brantley makes it back, he could try to get back to playing center field also.
Overall, the Indians usually end up making the right decisions as of late and that’s why they’ve won 18 straight games and found themselves one game away from winning the World Series.
Best of luck to Jason Kipnis returning from his injury and let’s see if Terry Francona and company have another trick up their sleeve heading into the postseason.
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