Did Josh Hamilton drag Ian Kinsler down? (photo credit: baseballdo.com)

Does Ian Kinsler Have a Good Excuse for 2012?

Nobody knows how serious the Rangers were about Ian Kinsler moving to first base. Prior to this off-season and after Kinsler signed his extension, most of the talk revolved around Ian moving to the outfield. But regardless of where, the word was Jurickson Profar would be playing second base in 2013. Well now that’s out. Ranger brass is saying Profar will start in Round Rock and Kinsler will be back at his familiar second base spot. But that isn’t what stung the most. Manager Ron Washington said that he would be hitting Kinsler in the leadoff spot once again. By all accounts, Ian Kinsler regressed in 2012. His fWAR was 7.5 in 2011 and fell to 3.2 last season. His OBP was .326. It was .382 in 2010 and .355 in 2011.

Elvis Andrus has been on the upswing. He has gotten better in each of the last four years. His fWAR in 2012 was 4.2, His OBP was .349. Elvis was given a shot to lead off, right after he was called up. It didn’t work out then. But Elvis Andrus is a different player now. He was one of the few Rangers who was solid all season long.  I think he should be leading off and honestly Kinsler should be hitting six or seven. At least until he figures out what’s going on.

There is one caveat to all of this with Kinsler. It might explain why the team is sticking with him. It actually comes in the form of a question. Just how involved was Kinsler in the day-to-day struggle of handling Josh HamiltonKinsler was there for Josh when he fell off the wagon before last season. Ian was there seemingly the only guy to show Hamilton some love as the players left the field following the loss to the Orioles to end the season. Was his involvement in keeping Hamilton on the straight and narrow what paved the way for Kinsler’s step backwards last season? Only those on the inside know, but it would be one of the rare things that would justify Kinsler staying in the leadoff spot, at second base and Profar starting in Round Rock. It’s also a better excuse than giving up tobacco.

One thing is for certain. With the off-season falling short of expectations, this is one of the bigger head scratchers until the guys get back to work in February.

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Tags: Baseball Elvis Andrus Ian Kinsler Josh Hamilton Jurickson Profar Sports Texas Rangers

  • Eric Reining

    To put things into perspective, 2012 was Ian Kinsler’s worst offensive season, and he produced a wRC+ (weighted runs created) of 99. Conversely, 2012 was Elvis Andrus’s best season, and he generated a wRC+ of 95.

    Kinsler’s career wRC+ is 112 (averaging out his 7 seasons). Only twice has Andrus been above 90. Since your best 4 hitters should bat 1-2-3-4, there’s no doubt Kinsler belongs there. He has better plate discipline and gets on base at a higher frequency than Andrus.

    I’m not ready to jump ship on Kinsler based on one year.

  • Robbie_Knopf

    Agreeing with Eric Reining, fWAR is not the right stat to quote with Andrus since much of that comes from his outstanding defense at shortstop. Maybe Andrus should be the Rangers’ leadoff hitter, but his defense certainly isn’t the reason why. By the way, looking at Kinsler’s 2012 numbers, he only hit 4 fewer extra-base hits than in 2011- the difference was that would had been home runs turned into doubles. A combination of bad luck and the frustration that came from being unable to hit balls out of the park like he had in years past made his season go awry. Especially since Kinsler is a player in the middle of his prime, I would expect a rebound from him next season.

    • Eric Reining

      Agreed 100%. Elvis’s primary value is base running (speed) and elite defense at shortstop. The combination of those two things alone is probably worth between 2.5-3.0 wins over the course of a season. His offense makes up the other 1.0-1.5 WAR, as right now he’s a pretty static 4.0-4.5 fWAR player. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but it has to do with his offense very little.

      There’s been a lot of anti-Kinsler press this offseason due to his down 2012 season, and most recently his unwillingness to move off 2nd base. Something to consider is that he, admittedly, was dealing with a bad ankle (again) last year. I think that could have significantly altered his performance, as he was one of baseball’s best players in April.

      Anyway, I’m in agreement that I expect a big rebound from Kins in 2013. Regression to the mean.