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 Hamilton? Kinsler 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.