Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ian Kinsler: MU Hall of Fame

Former Tiger shortstop Ian Kinsler will be inducted into the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, February 1st. (Induction Banquet details)

Ian Kinsler, #22
2002 Fall World Series
MU 2004 Media Guide
Ian Kinsler was a good player for the Tigers during his single year with the team, in 2003. No one was quite sure what to expect from him going into that season. The 2003 Media Guide included one indistinct photo of Kinsler in a Fall World Series rundown, with these comments:
"Kinsler made an impressive debut at shortstop in the fall...Kinsler led all Tiger hitters with a .619 average (13-for-21) and a team high 10 runs scored."
But the year before, after transferring from Central Arizona Community College to Arizona State, he had hit only .230 in 29 games, losing out his starting role to a more consistent hitter, his future fellow MLB All Star, Dustin Pedroia.

But Tim Jamieson had seen Kinsler play in summer ball, and liked what he saw. He was quoted on (7/19/08) about his impression of Kinsler:
"We needed a shortstop, so I went out to see him," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said. "I saw him take ground balls and thought, defensively, he was as good a middle infielder as I had ever seen. As for his bat, I didn't really care."
My own memory of Ian Kinsler as a Tiger is of a good ballplayer, but not one I would have listed among even the top 25 Mizzou players I've seen that were likely to reach the major leagues, let alone be a star player. He was a wiry middle infielder, listed as 6'0" and 182 pounds.

After playing second fiddle to Pedroia at Arizona State, Kinser's 2004 stats at MU show that coming in 2nd was what seemed to define him.

The star of that team, and the lead-off hitter, was senior outfielder Jayce Tingler. Kinsler spent most of the season batting second, enjoying the benefits of the disruption Tingler caused with his drag lead-off bunts, constant threat to steal bases, and general distracting behavior.

Kinsler finished 2nd to Tingler in Batting Average (.335), Runs (54) and Stolen Bases (16).  He also came in 2nd in Doubles (13) to 1B Cody Ehlers, and in Sac Flies 6) to C Brad Flanders.  Kinsler did lead the Tigers in Slugging Percentage (.536), Triples (4), and Stolen Base Percentage (.941).  I suppose I should apologize for naming our annual Tip of the Cap Base Cadet Award after Ian, with a SB% like that.  Or maybe not.

Ian Kinsler and team mates at Taylor Stadium Autograph Day
Photo by Trripleplay
Like I said, he was good player, but most of the time there was someone else overshadowing him.  But as, Tim Jamieson said in a 2008 Sports Illustrated article, "From the day Ian stepped through the doors here you could see it on his face: He was on a mission."

Kinsler impressed his coaches enough that he overshadowed his back-up at shortstop, Adam Garrett.
Garrett has been in the starting lineup since junior Ian Kinsler injured his foot at Texas on March 16. Garrett was 1 for 10 before his insertion into the starting lineup. Since then, he has hit safely and scored in every game, batting .619 (13 for 21) in six games to raise his season average to .452. (Columbia Tribune, 3/29/03)
But after Kinsler returned from his eight day break, Garrett was returned to the bench.

From that point on, Kinsler cemented his place in the lineup and his value to the team, impressing the scouts. He was drafted in June, 2204, by the Texas Rangers organization. He was one of five Tigers drafted that year. Justin James eventually made it to a short career in the major leagues after a long journey. Jayce Tingler, Andy Shipman, and Derek Roper all put in their time in the minor leagues.

Ian Kinsler and 1st Base Coach Tony Vitello
2003 Big 12 Tournament
Photo by Len Laskowski
Kinsler's team mates on that 2003 team also included future Mizzou asssistant coaches Travis Wendte, Luke Cassis and Tony Vitello, among others.

After a slow start in his rookie season in the minors, Kinsler made a steady march through the Rangers' farm system. He seems to be one of those rare players who actually gets better at the game at each successive level, improving his skills and raising his game to the level of the competition.

Since then, he has become a leader on the Texas Rangers and an American League All-Star.  His achievements as a major leaguer have been well chronicled.

But today, we honor him as a distinguished representative of Missouri Tigers Baseball

Here's a Tip of the Cap to Ian Kinsler, a member of the 2013 Class of the University of Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.

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