Throughout the offseason and spring training, Indians manager often said that he thought Jason Kipnis would come back with a vengeance this season. If Francona’s idea of vengeance is Kipnis going on an epic May where he joined the likes of Ty Cobb and Al Simmons, then he was spot on.
Kipnis led the majors in hits, batting average, runs scored and on-base percentage in May. He is also the first player since Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins in 2005 with 50-plus hits and 30-plus runs in a calendar month. He is also the first player since Melky Cabrera in May of 2012 to have a 50-plus hits in May in the majors.
"It’s hard to get your head around it," Kipnis said to reporters after the Indians beat the Mariners 6-3 in 12 innings on Sunday. "I’ve told you guys I can get hot with the best of them and I can get cold with the best of them.
"The 51 hits is a lot of hard work in the cages coming to fruition. The 30 runs is a credit to my teammates. I can get on base, but I’m not scoring without them. They’re driving me in. It was a fun month. No only for me, but our team as well. We’re finally starting to turn it around."
Only seven times in Indians’ history had a player turned a 50/30 month. The last time was by Jeff Heath in August, 1938.
With Kipnis’ month and Corey Kluber having 60 strikeouts in May, the Indians have only the second pair of teammates in MLB history to combine for 60 K’s and 50 base hits in a single month. The only other time it happened was when Bobo Newsom (61 K’s) and George McQuinn (50 hits) did it in August of 1938 for the St. Louis Browns.
Here’s a look at Kipnis’ May by the numbers:
1: Players in franchise history to get on base three or more times in eight straight games. Kipnis did that May 9-17. Riggs Stephenson had the old mark of seven in 1924.
2: Players in franchise history to have 51-plus hits a month since 1948. Roberto Alomar had 51 in September of 2000.
3: Triples. Kipnis had only one triple all of last season.
3.4: Kipnis’ Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference. That is second in the American League overall and first among position players.
4: Home runs. His first at-bat of the month was a leadoff home run off Toronto’s Mark Buehrle in a 9-4 win. Said Kipnis after the game: "I can’t tell you how much a different calendar month does for a baseball player’s psyche. When you say it turns a page, it really does."
6: Times where Kipnis got a hit after he made contact on the first pitch.
8: Players in the American League since 1914 to have 50 or more hits in May. Cobb has the record with 58 in 1921 followed by Simmons (Philadelphia A’s 1925) with 57 and Carney Lansford (Oakland 1988) with 52. Besides Kipnis, Heinie Manush (1934 Washington) and George Sisler (1925 St. Louis Browns) also had 51 hits. Mickey Cochrane (1931 Philadelphia A’s) and Ichiro (2004 Seattle) had 50.
9: Longest hitting streak of the month for Kipnis, which happened twice (May 8-17 and May 21-29).
11: Tribe players to have 51-plus hits in a month since 1914.
12: Times where Kipnis led off the game for the Indians with a hit. Two were home runs.
15: Doubles, which is the most by an Indians player in May and the most for an MLB player since Albert Pujols had 15 in September of 2012. It is also the most for a Cleveland player since Jeff Heath also had 15 in September of 1942.
16: Games where he had two or more hits.
17: Run batted in and times he reached base via walk.
22: Extra-base hits, which is the most for an Indians batter in May and by a Cleveland second baseman in any month. Travis Hafner was the last Indians batter to do it in August of 2006.
25: Games in May where Kipnis had a hit. The Indians played 29 games and went 17-12.
30: Runs scored. It is the 31st time in team history a player has had 30 or more runs scored in any month as Roy Cullinbine has the May record with 32 in 1944. Before Kipnis, the last time it happened was when Grady Sizemore had 30 in June, 2005.
51: Hits, which are the most in May in franchise history (per Elias, Shoeless Joe Jackson had 49 in 1913).
119: At-bats in May which was the most in the American League.
122: Points raised in batting average from April to May. At .340, Kipnis is second in the American League.
.429: Batting average for the month.
.518: On-base percentage.
1.217: The OPS, which was second in MLB behind Washington’s Bryce Harper (1.379).