Ian Kinsler: Not The Hero We Need, The Hero We Deserve


Alexi Ogando went 6.0+ innings of 1-run ball, Ian Kinsler and Craig Gentry added a home run apiece, and the Texas Rangers defeated the Boston Red Sox for the 2nd night in a row, 5-1.

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This weekend’s matchup between the Red Sox and Rangers was billed as a series featuring the American League’s two best teams. It made sense. Heading into Friday the Red Sox were 20-8, the Rangers 17-11.

Two games in, there’s no mistaking who better fits the part of Best Team In The American League, and that isn’t my non-east-coast-bias speaking. Texas has outscored Boston 12-1 in two games to increase their run differential to +38 on the season, which is now tied with the Red Sox for the 2nd best figure in baseball. The only team with a better netted run total is Detroit, who just beat the Astros 17-2.

(Sure, of course, teams don’t play baseball to finish the year with the league’s best +/- in runs scored vs. allowed, but it’s no less a handy figure to track as a means to gauge the temperature of the league.)

Alexi Ogando pitched into the 7th inning — completing 6.0 full — allowing 1 run on 6 hits, with 2 walks and 4 punch outs. To make a long story short it was basically a typical start from Alexi. He didn’t go deep into the game. He wasn’t great. He didn’t strike out an extraordinary amount.

He was just. Solid. Or, “good enough to pick up the win,” as pundits would say.

Ian Kinsler went 1-5 with a leadoff home run, compliments of his former Angels’ foe, John Lackey. Heading into the game Kins was tied for 13th in baseball with 1.4 fWAR, and that’s including a negative Ultimate Zone Rating (-0.8).

To this point the most glaring statistic that jumps out at me when I look at Ian Kinsler’s 128 plate-appearance sample is with respect to his K:BB rate, which I referenced yesterday in an article.

In all of baseball only 4 players have better strikeout rates than Ian Kinsler’s impressive 7.8% (Placido Palanco, Coco CrispNorichika Aoki and Nick Markakis).

Sabermetricians say you can stop calling it a Small Sample Size Issue when hitters cross into the 100-150 PA threshold. At that point it’s a trend. And though I’m not sure if Kinsler can keep up his semi-remarkable strikeout-to-walk rate, he shouldn’t have a problem staving off the 12.3% K rate he posted in 2012 — which isn’t bad or anything, but clearly not of the caliber Ian is currently generating.

Whether Dave Magaden deserves the credit for Kinsler’s improvement — or, regression back to his homeostasis — is debatable, but it’s impossible to deny just how much better a hitter Ian is this year as compared to last, which was his worst offensive season to date.

His overall Swing% is down from 42.7% in ’12 to 40.7% in ’13; his contact rate is up to 91.8% from 87.9% in ’12.

Anyway, that’s Kins, and today the Rangers look for the sweep against the Red Sox. Yu Darvish (5-1) takes on Jon Lester (4-0).