- Kipnis was born in Chicago, and he insists that he was a fan of both the White Sox and Cubs while growing up in the northern suburbs.
As a freshman at Glenbrook North high school, Jason played soccer, setting the school's single-season goal scoring record with 41.
Kipnis graduated from Glenbrook North High School in Kentucky. Then he accepted a baseball scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where he redshirted as a freshman, then was suspended as a sophomore.
Jason then transferred to Arizona State where his work ethic was very impressive.
In 2008, as a draft-eligible sophomore, Jason was drafted by the Padres. But he turned down the fourth-round money to return to Arizona State. And it ended up being a good decision.
In 2009, he led the Sun Devils in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging, and stolen bases.
CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER
In 2009, Jason was drafted in the second round by the Indians. He was disappointed he did not go earlier in the draft.
"I've always played with a chip on my shoulder," Kipnis said during 2014 spring training. "And you know what? I never wat it to go away. You always want to have that motiviation burning inside you."
Kipnis carried that chip after high school, where he was an All State outfielder and conference MVP, but received just two scholarship offers: one to Eastern Illinois of the Ohio Valley Conference, and a $400 book scholarship to Kentucky.
He brought that chip to Kentucky, where he was a redshirt freshman. And he had the chip when he arrived in the minors with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. Manager Travis Fryman sat Kipnis at first because he was working his way back form an elbow injury suffered during the College World Series.
That prompted Kipnis to barge into Fryman's office, blurting, "If you're not going to play me, I want to be traded."
The Indians joke that it was the quickest play-me-or-trade-me demand ever.
- In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Kipnis as the 10th-best prospect in the Indians organization. But they moved Jason all the way up to third-best in the Indians' farm system in 2011.
- In 2010, Jason was the Indians' Minor League Player of the Year.
- July 2013: For the second year in a row, Kipnis was selected as the Indians' representative as the Heart and Hustle Award, which "honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit, and tradition of the game."
"It's just kind of credit to the way I play the game, the way I was taught to play the game—running out the balls, talking, being a good teammate, being involved in the game," Kipnis said. "If that's what it entails to win that award, that's an award I'm going to be trying to win for years to come."
Though Kipnis played baseball, football and soccer while growing up, he said there was never any question that his goal was to become a professional baseball player.
Kipnis is a practicing Roman Catholic, though he self-identifies as Jewish due to his father's Jewish ancestry.
Kipnis has been nicknamed "Dirtbag," since he is prone to get his uniform dirty during the course of a game.
Kipnis stepped up as a Tribe leader in 2013.
"There's a lot to like about Kip," manager Terry Francona said. "But he has not hit one ball where he hasn't sprinted to first base like his pants are on fire. I respect that as much in him as anything. I think that carries over into the rest of his game."
Kipnis' full-throttle style has helped him emerge as one of baseball's most versatile talents.
"He's a game changer," said Indians veteran Jason Giambi. "He can do so many things in this game. He can hit. He can hit for power, doubles, steal bags, he plays defense, he can bunt. He's such a weapon for us. You don't find too many guys that can do everything he can do. I think he's only going to get better and better."
First, Kipnis admits that he needs to improve his reaction to the slumps that naturally arise throughout the course of a season. Kipnis has a tendency to beat himself up over rough periods in the batter's box, but Francona said that is evidence of how much the second baseman cares.
"I think he's hard on himself," Francona said, "but I think it's because he strives for perfection so much."
Kipnis believes that is something he will learn to control with more experience.
"I think that's kind of what has also gotten me here," Kipnis said, "not being satisfied and always looking for areas of improvement. At the same time, I need to start being a little bit more mature about it, kind of growing up to the point where we start being smart and being productive with how I handle things. I need make sure I'm not using too much energy focusing on the wrong stuff to make sure we're just keeping it simple and focusing on the right stuff. I've been that way in most sports—I've never been satisfied. I've always wanted to keep getting better. There's a little chip on the shoulder. I've always wanted to go out there and beat the guy across from me and show people." (Bastian - mlb.com - 9/23/13)
Jason lays out for every extra inch on the field, diving and sliding so much that he went through eight uniforms during the 2013 season. In the Indians clubhouse he proudly answers to the nickname "Dirtbag."
"To me, dirtbag means ballplayer," Kipnis says, "and that's a label I feel I've been fighting for my whole careeer."
Kipnis was selected to join the Taylor Hooton Foundation Advisory Board, which is comprised exclusively of Major League players. The Foundation is widely acknowledged as the leader in the advocacy against performance-enhancing drug use by America's youth.
"When you really look into it and what it is and what it stands for, it's a great cause, it's a great message to be sending to the younger population of players," Kipnis said. "I'm glad and very proud to be a part of it and am looking forward to helping wherever I can." (4/11/14)
Kipnis used the spring of 2015 to get back to where he was physically and from a production standpoint in 2013. Part of that included cleaning up his defense, making daily drills an important part of his Spring Training program. Over the offseason, Kipnis focused on more agility-based workouts after bulking up too much two winters before.
"I did a lot more free-weight movements, cone drills, moving around and not heavy lifting," Kipnis said. "I was getting stretched every morning, so now I'm more flexible and more agile and all that stuff. I'm doing all the right things that I need to do."
A unique drill he did with Mike Sarbaugh, (Kipnis positioned himself near third base and rather than stand in a typical stance, Kipnis shifted to his knees and gloved a stream of ground balls), was just one example of how Kipnis prepared for the 2015 season.
"It was just getting his glove in a good position out front. It was just using his hands," Sarbaugh said. "He has a tendency not to bend at his waist. We're trying to get him to bend at his waist and catch the ball out front. It just develops good, soft hands." (Bastian - mlb.com - 2/18/15)
Kipnis celebrated his 30th birthday on Opening Day 2017, but spent his evening somewhere other than the ballpark on account of that DL stint. In fact, Kipnis (a product of Arizona State University) headed to the University of Phoenix Stadium to take in the NCAA national championship Game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and North Carolina Tar Heels.
But, since baseball is life, Kipnis couldn't help but tune in to Cleveland's game against Texas ... and did just that using the At Bat app, (Garro - mlb.com - 4/3/17)
Jason is many things: mascot troll, "12-sport star" and, oh, Cleveland's second baseman. He recently had a conversation with Scene, a Cleveland magazine, and we learned more interesting facts about him.
He's real-life besties with Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis told Cleveland Scene that he likes to spend his off-days on activities, including just having fun with his BFF: Kipnis spent the last [off-day] with … Chisenhall - his best friend on the team and a guy he calls, with or without baseball, a friend for life - in Chisenhall's backyard with his two kids. "I'm Uncle Jason," he says …
He eats corndogs with silverware. Apparently his friend lets him get away with a very strange culinary quirk. Here's the rest of the quote from above: "I'm Uncle Jason," he says while noshing on a corn-dog, which would be unremarkable except he's eating it with a fork and knife despite the dish's built-in utensil.
He actually does see all the stuff you tweet at him. Speaking of Twitter, Kipnis looks at his social media mentions all the time. He used to check every single one, but he's slowed down a little:
"I was one of the ones early on who thought how cool it was to be able to get to know the athletes like that for fans. That bridge wasn't there when we were kids. But now you guys have too much access," he says.
"I try to keep my private life out of it because even when you post about a restaurant or fishing or something, every response is about blowing a 3-1 lead or hoping I get traded. And before, when I read everything, after a bad game I was like, 'All right … let's get through these,' and after good games it was positive reinforcement. I try to check after only good games now, more or less. I'm definitely addicted, and I used to love it, but my relationship with social media is on thin ice now."
He spent the 2016 off-season surrounded by Cubs fans. Kipnis is from Chicago, which you may have heard a little -- OK, a lot -- about if you watched the World Series last year. He still lives in Chicago in the offseason: He waited an extra week longer than he normally would have to return home, to let the parade happen and some of the excitement die down.
"Uh, it didn't die down," Kipnis says. "Cubs stuff in every … window."
He does not talk like Nick Swisher. At the very beginning of the season, Kipnis worked on a piece with The Players' Tribune. To create it, he talked to a writer who structured his thoughts into what would eventually become Let's Do This, Cleveland. But he had to make a few edits:
"I did take a bunch of stuff out though. [The writer] had a bunch of 'bros' and 'dudes' in there. I was like, 'I'm not [Nick] Swisher. I don't talk like that.'" (Kaneko - mlb.com 7/12/17)
July 9, 2009: Kipnis signed with the Indians for a bonus estimated at $575,000 after being drafted in the second round, out of Arizona State. Byron Ewing is the scout who signed Jason.
April 4, 2014: The Cleveland Indians announced the club has signed Kipnis to a six-year, $52.5 million contract extension. It goes through the 2019 season with a club option for 2020.