Jeff Keppinger

Jeff Keppinger

Keppinger with the Tampa Bay Rays
Born: (1980-04-21) April 21, 1980
Miami, Florida
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 20, 2004, for the New York Mets
Last MLB appearance
September 23, 2013, for the Chicago White Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average .282
Home runs 45
Runs batted in 295

Jeffrey Scott Keppinger (born April 21, 1980) is a former American professional baseball infielder. He bats and throws right-handed. Known as a contact hitter, Keppinger had one of the lowest strikeout rates in Major League Baseball.[1] He led the league in the "at-bats-to-strikeouts" ratio in 2008 (19.1) and 2010 (14.3).[2] For his career (through 2013), he has only 214 strikeouts in 2,882 at-bats.[3]

Early years

In 1994 Keppinger played on the Dunwoody Braves summer baseball team. Keppinger was named to the AAU All-American team. He also played for the New England Collegiate Baseball League's Keene Swamp Bats.

Keppinger compiled a .380 batting average at the University of Georgia where, in the 2001 College World Series, he hit a two-run home run off star pitcher Mark Prior. That same year, he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the Major League Baseball Draft.

Keppinger's older brother, Billy, a left-handed pitcher, played independent baseball and minor league baseball in the Kansas City Royals system.[4][5]

Professional career

New York Mets

At the 2004 trading deadline, while Keppinger was in double-A ball, he was traded to the Mets as part of the Kris Benson for Ty Wigginton trade. His average soared even higher with the double-A Binghamton Mets and stayed above .300 with the triple-A Norfolk Tides earning him a call to the majors on August 20. He responded by hitting .284 with three home runs and nine RBI in 33 games played.

In 2005, Keppinger again excelled in Norfolk while hitting .337. He was poised to return to the majors in June when Kazuo Matsui was injured, but bad luck struck when Keppinger fractured his kneecap around the same time as Matsui. The injury not only prevented his return to the majors but ended his entire 2005 season.

Kansas City Royals

On July 19, 2006, Keppinger was acquired by the Kansas City Royals for middle infielder Ruben Gotay and Keppinger was sent to Triple-A Omaha.

Keppinger was called up by the Royals in August 2006. With a season-ending injury to starting third baseman Mark Teahen, Keppinger was expected to see some major league action. A key moment in his career occurred on September 9, 2006 at Boston's Fenway Park, when, after entering the game against the Red Sox as a pinch runner, he came to bat in the top of 12th inning in a 4-4 tie game with two runners on. Keppinger, batting against Manny Delcarmen, hit a ball just to the left of the right field foul pole for a three-run home run, breaking the 4-4 tie. The Royals went on to beat the Red Sox in that game 10-4.

Cincinnati Reds

Keppinger during his tenure with the Cincinnati Reds in 2008 spring training

On January 2, 2007, Keppinger was designated for assignment by the Royals. Eight days later, Keppinger was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. In return, the Royals received Minor League pitcher Russ Haltiwanger.

On May 13, 2008, Keppinger fractured his patella in the second inning of a game against the Florida Marlins, placing him on the 15-day disabled list. On June 22, 2008, he returned, much to the joy of the Reds who had just recently lost another shortstop to injury in Jolbert Cabrera. In 2008 he had the lowest strikeout percentage in the majors, at 4.8%, striking out once only every 19.1 at-bats.[6][7]

Houston Astros

On March 31, 2009, Keppinger was traded to the Houston Astros for minor league infielder Drew Sutton. Keppinger saw a majority of his playing time at third base, filling in for Geoff Blum while he was injured. Still versatile, Keppinger also played shortstop, second base, and first base during the '08 and '09 seasons.[8] Keppinger began the 2010 season with the Astros as the primary backup at second base to starter Kazuo Matsui. However, after Matsui's offense proved inept after 71 at-bats, Keppinger was named the starter after Matsui was released by the Astros on May 19, 2010.[9]

San Francisco Giants

On July 19, 2011, Keppinger was traded to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Henry Sosa and Jason Stoffel. He hit a walk-off single against his former team, the Houston Astros, on August 27 and 28, 2011.[10]

Tampa Bay Rays

On January 26, 2012, Keppinger was signed to a 1-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. The deal became official the next day.[11] Keppinger had a good season as a utility infielder, playing first, second and third base throughout the season. Over 115 games, Keppinger batted .325 in 385 at-bats. He also hit 9 home runs and 40 RBI with an OPS of .806. On May 19, Keppinger broke his big right toe while sitting in the dugout. A foul ball from Martin Prado struck Keppinger on the foot and he subsequently missed over a month. Keppinger became a free-agent at the end of the season.

Chicago White Sox

Keppinger with the Chicago White Sox

On December 10, 2012, Keppinger signed a 3-year, $12 million deal with the Chicago White Sox.[12] He was designated for assignment on May 14, 2014.[13] On May 21, the White Sox officially released Keppinger.[14]


  1. "Jeff Keppinger's anti-strikeout crusade | Catcher Interference". September 26, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  2. "Yearly League Leaders &amp Records for AB per SO". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  3. "Jeff Keppinger Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio | Team". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  4. Smith, Joe (March 16, 2012). "Jeff Keppinger give Tampa Bay Rays plenty of options". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  5. "Billy Keppinger Register Statistics & History". Sports Reference. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  8. "Astros Acquire Keppinger from Cincinnati". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  9. "Astros decide to part ways with Matsui | News". Retrieved December 16, 2013.
  10. Nicholson-Smith, Ben. "Giants Acquire Jeff Keppinger". Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  11. "Rays Sign Jeff Keppinger". MLB Trade Rumors. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
  12. Merkin, Scott (December 10, 2012). "White Sox, Keppinger complete three-year deal". Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  13. "White Sox DFA Jeff Keppinger". May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  14. Adams, Steve (May 21, 2014). "White Sox To Release Jeff Keppinger". Retrieved May 22, 2014.
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