With the arrival of new player Josh Donaldson, it was obvious that there would be some trickle down. When healthy, Donaldson is an obvious starter at third base and he’s played third base throughout his career.
Donaldson, a former MVP, and three-time Silver Slugger award winner was brought to Cleveland for his powerful bat and playoff experience. While he has faced his struggles this season, inserting Donaldson into the starting lineup immediately would be a no-brainer.
Josh Donaldson has averaged 559.8 at-bats over the last five seasons, but this season featured his biggest battle with injuries. The 32-year-old has seen 137 at-bats this season and will see more before the end of the season, but his time on the field has dropped dramatically compared to the previous years.
Donaldson will start at third base when he’s healthy enough to play every day but with Donaldson joining the team, there’s an obvious elephant in the room. It can be argued on a daily basis that Cleveland’s best player has been at third base all season, Jose Ramirez.
Ramirez is currently in the position that Donaldson used to be in. Donaldson could still be in his prime in a sense, but it’s hard to know for certain due to the injuries and small sample size of playing time this year for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ramirez finished top-three in MVP voting last season and he’s likely to finish in the top three this season as well.
With Donaldson added to the starting lineup at third base, Ramirez is rumored to move to second base. With Ramirez at second base, starter Jason Kipnis might not be a starter anymore.
Josh Donaldson just hit a 2-out Grand Slam in his rehab start for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. ?☔️ pic.twitter.com/T4OPTy1cck
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) September 3, 2018
Jason Kipnis has had his struggles so far this season and has slowly but surely dug himself out of an early hole. Kipnis had an atrocious month of April wherein 100 at-bats he only managed 16 hits, giving him a month batting average of .160.
Kipnis has never showcased tremendous power in his career but since the all-star game, Kipnis has brought the boomstick. In 325 at-bats prior to the break, Kipnis had nine home runs. In only 129 at-bats since the break, he already has five homers.
If the Indians were to have traded for Donaldson say, at the beginning of August, the decision to replace Kipnis in the starting lineup would be an easy one. But the last 14 days or so have made it hard for Tito Francona to bench the hot-hitting second baseman.
In the last two weeks, Kipnis is batting .286 and has contributed to the team on a nightly basis. The bigger story is his stats in the last seven days. Hitting a scorching .526 has surprised many Tribe fans as we’ve become accustomed to Kipnis’ struggles throughout the season.
With Kipnis’ success, the team will find ways to insert Kipnis into the lineup, but it’s hypothesized that Kipnis won’t see starting time unless Donaldson doesn’t pan out. This ranks up with the demise of Trevor Bauer this season. Both players seemed to have found their footing this season and were derailed by uncontrollable series of events.
Anything can happen in between now and the playoffs so there’s a chance that Kipnis could play a big part in the team’s success. The biggest advice for Kipnis would be to stay ready but knowing the veteran that Jason Kipnis is, he’ll already be ready.