Spring Training Preview: Second base


Aug 24, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Texas Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar (13) fields an infield single off the bat of Chicago White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo (not pictured) during the third inning at US Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

To continue the Texas Rangers spring training preview edition we’ll cover second base.  The changes at first base as we know had an impact at second base all.  The mega trade sent former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers.

Ian Kinsler has been a fixture at second base for the past 8 season.  Over that time, Kinsler and Elvis Andrus have turned into a reliable duo turning out double play after double play.  For the most part, Kinsler has been pretty solid at second base.  There were times throughout his career though, it would seem he would have a mental lapse and miss a play.

As far as his offense,  his best year was in 2008 when be batted .319/.375/.517/.892 with 41 doubles, 4 triples and 18 home runs for the season.  After playing above his level that year, things leveled off.  If it wasn’t for his 2008 numbers, Kinsler would probably have a career batting average around .266.  Instead, after 8 season he has a batting average of .273/.349/.454/.804.  Fans in Detroit are hoping though he will do even better in 2014.  As Texas Rangers fans know, one problem Ian Kinsler suffered from was the infield pop-up.  No one could do it better or more often than Kinsler.   From the “Newberg report” , he compares Shin-Soo Choo with Ian Kinsler on the pop-up issue.

"And here’s another Choo/Kinsler note, which if nothing else may have some aesthetic value: According to FanGraphs, Choo has popped up on the infield six times in the last three seasons combined (compare that with 249 line drives).  That includes one pop-up in 2013.Kinsler?  Over the last three years, 90 infield pop-ups."

It wouldn’t have been bad if Kinsler would have stayed, but it might have been time for a chance for both parties.

Now with the departure of Ian Kinsler, that leaves the position wide open for the young and former Texas Ranger top prospect Jurickson Profar.   While Profar is not a lock at second base, it is assumed he’ll be getting the job full-time next season.

Last year for Profar was still a learning year.  There were times where Profar would show flashes of some awesome talent and others where you wonder what he was thinking.  But, I think part of it is adapting to the speed of the game and your teammates.  The Kinsler/Andrus duo wasn’t formed overnight.

Last year, Profar wasn’t that great at the plate either.  He only had a batting average of .234/.308/.336/.644.  He did manage to hit a few timely home runs to launch some fireworks and enjoy a walk-off victory.

Looking forward this year, I think that we’ll see better things out of Jurickson Profar.  During the offseason Profar spent sometime in the Dominican Winter League working on his defensive and offensive skills.  Profar started off the DWL season very well for the Tigres del Licey and was leading in batting average for a while at the beginning.   He finished the season with a batting average of .284 and an on base percentage of .439 over 37 games and 144 at-bats.  If you are wondering how the DWL compares, it is consider a high AAA league, because it includes several MLB players.  The main thing the Texas Rangers were looking for out of Jurickson Profar was to get a few extra at-bats at some highly competitive baseball and for him to do well.  Hopefully his extra preparation will will pay off when spring training begins in just a few weeks.

My prediction:

I think Jurickson Profar will easily do better offensively in 2014.  Then again, it isn’t hard to do when you bat .234.  I wouldn’t except him to duplicate his DWL numbers, but I expect him to bat near .250.  If he can bring some discipline to the plate and be more selective on his pitches, he’ll get there.

On the other side, I would expect him and Andrus to find a rhythm this season.  My guess is it will take until May.  That gives them spring training and a full month of regular ball.  I’m not saying April will be bad, just you’ll see more sharp and quick plays later in the season.   Profar has been said to be the future at second base, now we’ll get to find out if he really is.