Monday, December 3, 2012

Mizzou Baseball in the Majors 2012: Ian Kinsler


Former Missouri Tiger Ian Kinsler's season began with a fantastic pay raise and a couple of historic home runs, and he performed well enough early on to be on to be named to the All Star Game roster, and the Texas Rangers made it to the playoffs - barely - and then lost the one-game Wild Card playoff.  Along the way, though, Ian slumped during the second half of the season, drawing a lot of questions and criticism from fans and the press.

♦ Ian and his wife Tess couldn't even get away from the naysayers when they participated in a charity Thanksgiving celebration: At charity Thanksgiving event, Ian Kinsler balks at fielding baseball questions (Dallas News)
Kinsler balked at the first baseball question.

“To be honest with you, I’m not really here to talk about baseball,” Kinsler said. “Sorry. … Baseball’s really not on my mind right now.”

Kinsler could be trying to forget his dreadful season.

He had career-lows in on-base percentage at .326 and OPS at .749 and a career-high for strikeouts with 90. He also led major-league second basemen in errors with 18.

Kinsler was a major figure in the Rangers’ late collapse. He hit only .207 with a .276 on-base percentage and .623 OPS for the final month of the regular season. Kinsler scored only 14 runs in 30 games.
Ian was also plagued somewhat by base running problems (of the sort that led to the annual SimmonsField.com Ian Kinsler Base Cadet Award).

And ValueOverReplacementGrit.com had a totally different perspective on Kinsler's production.

♦ Not everyone agrees that Kinsler's season was all that bad, though. FanGraphs presents a balanced analysis in Ian Kinsler and the Value of Hitting Leadoff (Fangraphs.com):
For the second straight season, Kinsler led the Texas Rangers in both plate appearances and runs scored. Given that the Rangers ranked third and first in runs scored in 2011 and 2012 respectively shouldn’t come as a surprise either. Kinsler possesses the rare gift of being able to hit for power and draw walks all while keeping his strikeouts in check and his contract rate high. That he can steal bases is just the icing on top. If only we could pencil him in for a .300 average, he would be the ideal fantasy player.

This past season brought a little less power and a little less speed than what we’ve been accustomed to seeing from Kinsler. Other than his 103 game, injury plagued 2010 season, 2012 was the first season that he didn’t have a slugging percentage above .440. An arbitrary mark to be sure, but his career low .326 on-base percentage combined with his poor slugging produced a below average offensive player: 2012 was the first season that Kinsler dropped below the 100 wRC+ mark. Or the .345, let alone the .330 wOBA mark.
♦ There has been a great deal of talk in this off-season about the possibility of a position move:  Ian Kinsler willing to play left field, first base (Dallas.SBNation.com)
Kinsler's defense has alternated since 2009 -- going from absolute All-Star defensively to slightly above average -- in each of the last four years. In 2011, Kinsler had a DRS (defensive runs saved) of 18, and a UZR/150 of 16.2, but in 2012 took a step back, with a DRS of 1 and UZR/150 of 0.

Still, it's hard to consider Kinsler a liability in the field, and more likely than not, he's an asset at second base.

With a lot of offseason left, it's difficult to forecast what exactly the Rangers will do. At the least, it's good to know that Kinsler is willing to do whatever he has to to help the Rangers.

♦ Hundreds of Ian Kinsler tagged posts, pics and love letters are all tumbled together on tumblr.com.  My favorite is this photo.

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