No Puns For Ian Kinsler

After yesterday’s mostly unpopular Chase Utley pun, I’m going to play the old politician’s card and stick to the facts. Right, “facts.” In any case, here we have a guy named Ian Kinsler, one who developed a bit of a injury prone label in Texas but has missed few games from his age 29 through 32 seasons. Last year was his first outside of Texas after he was dealt for Prince Fielder (the Rangers would like that one back!).

Kinsler generally hit atop that potent Tigers lineup, where he generated a not leadoff quality .307 on base percentage. His walk rate of four percent was a career low – by a LOT. His next worst season was over double that rate. Still, despite one very glaring flaw for his role, Kinsler posted $26 of value for his fantasy owners, according to Zach Sanders. Meanwhile, his preseason cost averaged $19 per FantasyPros.

He created value in the ways you probably expect. With lots of balls in play, his .275 batting average was a modest positive. Of bigger value were his 100 runs scored. He was one of just seven players to eclipse the century mark this season. The five category production continued with 17 home runs, 15 stolen bases, and 92 RBI. In a season where counting stats were hard to drum up, Kinsler had a handful of everything.

His supporting cast was a big help, and we should expect similar fire power next season, even if Detroit’s second and fourth hitters might land elsewhere. Miguel Cabrera remains one of the best hitters in baseball. J.D. Martinez emerged as a mid-lineup threat too. I’m confident predicting the Tigers will sign some kind of offensive presence – possibly Victor Martinez.

In other words, Kinsler should continue scoring runs. The low on base percentage is a worry, but there doesn’t seem to be an impending change in role. This could be a one year blip for Kinsler, but it’s hard to guess based on the available evidence. His swing rates increased precipitously, but his contact rates remained stable. Even with the increase, he went from swinging around five percent less than average to a league average rate. To me, it smells like a permanent change in approach, but it’s also the kind of thing that can be easily adjusted.

At some point, Kinsler is going to stop swiping bases. He nabbed 15 this season and got his caught stealings under control after being tagged 11 times in 2013. In general, Kinsler is a sharp runner on the bases, so I don’t expect his running to completely disappear. He can use guile to make up for any loss of speed. Steamer calls for 15 swipes, but I wouldn’t count on more than 10. That said, one last hurrah (i.e. over 20 steals) wouldn’t shock me.

We’re left with the omnipresent concerns. Kinsler will be 33 next season and has accrued a lot of mileage over the last four years. He’s an elevated injury risk, albeit not so big as say Utley or Dustin Pedroia. Depending on who the Tigers sign, he could be reliant on a couple other older players to create a lot of his value. Cabrera and the elder Martinez aren’t young and could spend their share of time on the disabled list too. I do hope Kinsler will scrape out a few more walks next season, but I suspect the Tigers advised him to take a more aggressive approach at the plate.

This season marked the upside of Kinsler’s value. The downside (ignoring health issues) is probably something like Utley’s $14 return. In other words, Kinsler makes for a good veteran target in 2015.

You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam

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Spa City
Spa City

CornucopIan Kinsler maybe?