Key Stats: After hitting just 9 home runs in 2010, Ian Kinsler had some questions to answer in 2011. After hitting a career high 32 home runs in 2011, Kinser answered those questions. Kinsler had a career low HR:FB% in 2010 and a career low FB%. Last year those numbers essentially returned to his career average in both stats.
The reason that Kinsler hit a career high on an “average” season in terms of fly balls and home runs per fly ball is a result of playing in a career high 155 games and avoiding the DL for the first time in his career.
Skeptics Say: A player coming off a 30/30 season that isn’t an outfielder is usually an automatic first round choice. Kinsler though has his issues. First of all, there are those people that choose to think of last season’s healthy season as the exception rather than the rule. Secondly, Kinsler hurt teams with a .255 batting average last season. That average came despite a career low strikeout rate. Kinsler’s BABIP was only .243, but before we assume that his luck will turn around consider that this is the second time in three years Kinsler’s BABIP has fallen under .250. The other season that Kinsler had this happen to him was 2009. In that season, he also was a 30/30 player and had an average of .253. The poor average seems like a trend to me.
Peer Comparison: Anywhere you look including this site has Kinsler ranked as the third best second baseman. It’s pretty safe to assume that Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano will be off the board before Kinsler, and that the likes of Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla, and Brett Lawrie will come off the board after Kinsler. The harder issue to decide is where to take Kinsler versus the players at other positions at this time in the draft.
The sites below rank Kinsler anywhere from 19th to 34th which makes sense. Here are the primary players that are the “swing states” in where Kinsler ends up falling:
Cliff Lee, Jered Weaver, Cole Hamels, Adrian Beltre, Mark Teixeira, and Hanley Ramirez. We can debate the fine points about who to take first in each case, but I will just give you my quick takes.
- Kinsler versus the pitchers. Only Lee should go ahead of him. Lee is in a class ahead of Weaver and Hamels. In that Weaver and Hamels class there are multiple possible alternatives – that’s not the case with Kinsler as discussed above.
- Kinsler versus Beltre. The Texas teammates have both had their issues with injuries, but Beltre is older and had the more recent history. You can debate the depth of third base versus second base, but I think second is the thinner position with Miguel Cabrera and Hanley moving over.
- Kinsler versus Teixeira. If someone asked me to take my pick on who the safer pick is I’d take Teixeira 10 out of 10. If someone asked me the higher upside guy I’d take Kinsler 7 out of 10 times. Therefore, Teixeira wins 13 votes to 7 votes.
- Kinsler versus Hanley. An interesting comparison given that they both possess 30/30 potential and middle infield eligibility. I am going to take Hanley, but again it’s not an easy call. Hanley has had so much change around him (manager, ballpark, position, team name, etc.) that measuring how he will handle everything is very difficult to predict. Kinsler hasn’t had anything change. Hanley will have eligibility at two valuable positions though and will not hurt you in any category unlike Kinsler.
Lineup Outlook: Kinsler is the sixth of seven Texas Rangers that has been ranked in the top 150, and Mitch Moreland is not exactly a slouch either. That’s probably why he is the team’s leadoff hitter even with 30 home run pop. That said, this is a veteran team that could be fighting injuries much of the season. Mike Napoli is already being bothered by a groin injury. Every player in the Rangers lineup with the exception of Elvis Andrus has a relatively high risk to get injured.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #3 Second Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #3 Second Baseman & #29 Overall; Yahoo: #3 Second Baseman & #20 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #3 Second Baseman & #19 Overall; RotoChamp: #34 Overall
Projection: I don’t think Kinsler will play as many games this season, but the average will be up a tick.
100 R 24 HR 68 RBI 23 SB .266 AVG .825 OPS