Source: realclearsports.com

Ian Kinsler – Lead-Off in 2011?

Being one of my favorite, Ian Kinsler did not have his best year in 2010. He suffered a high ankle sprain in camp last year, which caused him to miss a good number of games – up until April 26. He barely played 100 games (103 to be exact). Then, he only secured nine home runs, 15 stolen bases and 45 RBIs – what?! That doesn’t sound like the Ian Kinsler that had such a successful year in 2009 at which time he hit his career-high of game appearances at 144 with 31 home runs and 31 stolen bases including 89 RBIs.

During most of his time in 2009, he hit in the leadoff position in the batting lineup. It proved to be pretty successful for the second baseman as you can see since he had a pretty damn good year that year. Last year, he alternated from batting third, fifth and sixth with a few games as the leadoff man.

The 28-year-old second baseman has hit the DL at least once in each of his five years in the Bigs. While he didn’t play until April 26 last year, you can take a look at his stats – or if you watched him play – and see that he gained a little bit more power and momentum each month. Kinsler also missed August of last year due to a left groin strain.

When He’s Healthy….

When Kinsler is around and is healthy, he is awesome. He is versatile being able to hit anywhere in the lineup and making a difference. Kinsler is quick – he was 15-for-20 last year in stolen base attempts, which could definitely be better but for someone suffering from tendinitis and trying to regain his power and strength from injuries, it’s not bad. In three of his five seasons, he has stolen 23 or more bases. He is a solid, quick player and his speed is true asset to the Rangers.

Maintain(ing) Healthiness

It’s all going to come down to Kinsler remaining healthy throughout the 2011 season. With Michael Young being the part-time DH and part-time utility infielder, Kinsler should be able to get more rest, which will hopefully allow him to stay healthier throughout the year. In fact, Washington has said that he is likely to give Kinsler as many as 15 games off.

In addition, Kinsler, as well as a few other Rangers such as Nelson Cruz, has been working with Darren O’Day’s brother to improve his overall strength, running style, etc. so that he can become a more proficient and key player for the team while becoming less injury prone.

Could Kinsler Leadoff?

There is speculation that Kinsler could be considered to be the leadoff man for the team in the batting lineup this upcoming 2011 MLB season and if that’s true, he can definitely have another impressive year similar to that in 2009 but while increasing his batting average, RBIs, stolen bases, home runs, on-base percentage and everything in between! He could very well be the leadoff man coming out of Spring Training for the 2011 season if his offseason training taught him anything.

So, let’s hope this conditioning program that Kinsler took up in the offseason helps. If he can play all year healthy then you can rest assured that he is going to put up incredible numbers. And this is good because the Rangers need him this year and if his offseason conditioning training has helped him, he is going to be more of a threat in 2011 than ever before – especially in terms of speed and power.

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Tags: Ian Kinsler Texas Rangers

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