Jason Kipnis, who already has a streak of homering in four straight games in his very young career, went 5-for-5 with a homer and four runs scored Wednesday in the Indians’ 10-3 win over the Tigers. It was his sixth homer in 16 games as a major leaguer.
Kipnis became the first rookie to finish with five hits and four runs scored in a game since Mark Reynolds (May 25) and David Murphy (Aug. 22) both did so in 2007. Andre Ethier also pulled off the feat on May 19, 2006. No other active player had such a game as a rookie.
It’s also the earliest in a career that any player has had a 5-for-5 game since Houston’s Josh Anderson had one in his ninth game on Sept. 16, 2007. Reynolds was in his 10th game when he did it earlier in 2007. Austin Jackson did it in his 23rd game on April 30, 2010.
Finally, with the homer tonight, Kipnis became the first player to collect six homers in his first 16 games since Chris Davis and Taylor Teagarden did so for the Rangers in 2008.
Kipnis has struck out 20 times already and his defense has looked a little rough at times, but he certainly appears to be here to stay. The converted outfielder has showed enough promise at second base to remain there for at least the beginning of 2012, and if he needs to move to left field at some point, he’ll likely have the bat to pull it off.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.