Q&A with Jeff Keppinger

Special to InsidePitchMagazine.com, David Laurila sits down with Tides' 2B Jeff Keppinger for a Q&A session to talk about his season so far, how he would rate his defensive game, how he feels his lack of home runs and walks will translate to the Major League level, whether or not playing in Norfolk everyday is helping him, and much more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: How is your season going so far?

Jeffrey Keppinger: I couldn't ask for more than how it's gone. I'm doing what I always do, which is playing hard and hitting.

Inside Pitch: Is it in your best interest to be playing every day in Norfolk, rather than sitting on the bench in New York?

Keppinger: It depends on who you're asking. If you ask me, I want to play where the best players are. If I don't belong up there, this is the next closest level. But I've always played, and always started, and I feel I can do the job anywhere.

Inside Pitch: Some players, like Wade Boggs, have had to prove themselves in the minors for longer before people realized just how good they were. Are you one of those guys?

Keppinger: Am I on that same track? Maybe. Maybe not. How players get labeled has always been a mystery. I'm not about to start comparing myself to Boggs, but I've done the job everywhere I've been.

Inside Pitch: You don't hit many home runs. Do you feel you need to show more power to have success in the big leagues?

Keppinger: Home runs are a big part of today's game, but not everybody hits them. And power hitters don't hit 150 a season, they hit 30 or 40. They need guys on base to drive in, and that's what I do. If I played in an era where base hits and advancing runners was stressed, I'd be a Moneyball player.

Inside Pitch: You don't strike out much, but you also don't draw a lot of walks. With so much emphasis being placed on OBP in today's game, is that something you need to work on?

Keppinger: The way I look at it, if I strike out 20 times and someone else strikes out 100 times, that's 80 more balls I'm putting in play. I'm going to get 25 hits out of those, and on some of the others I'll advance runners or reach on errors. Pitchers aren't going to walk me to get to the guys in the middle of the order anyway. I can get the barrel of the bat on anything near the plate, and that's what I do best.

Inside Pitch: Because you make contact so easily, are you prone to putting pitches in play that maybe you could have laid off and waited for something better you could drive?

Keppinger: I think I know the zone pretty well. You obviously don't want to chase balls, but if it's over the plate I can usually make solid contact.

Inside Pitch: How would you rate your defensive game?

Keppinger: I'm an offensive second baseman who's going to help score runs, but I can do a decent job out there. I'm not spectacular, but I won't hurt the team either. I make the plays I'm supposed to.

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