Pro Fantasy Baseball Buyer Beware: Ian Kinsler

Todd FarinoCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2009

SURPRISE, AZ - MARCH 05:  Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers hits a double against the San Diego Padres during the spring training game at Surprise Stadium on March 5, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With many leagues already holding drafts, it’s interesting to see what trends are developing in other leagues.

One trend that is apparent: People love Ian Kinsler.

Kinsler’s average draft position in Yahoo Leagues is 13.6, making him a borderline first round/early second round pick. It’s really not surprising that so many people are high on Kinsler, especially after he enjoyed a terrific season in 2008, posting a .317-.375-.517 line, with 18 HR, 76 RBI, 41 doubles, 26 steals, and 102 runs scored in just 518 AB's.

Kinsler is a dynamic force on offense, and is even more valuable because he’s a second baseman—a position where that type of productivity is quite rare.

Despite his productivity and position scarcity, however, Kinsler is a dangerous pick so early.

Why? Unfortunately Kinsler can’t stay on the field. Take a look at his games played and missed during his first three seasons:

  • In 2006, he played a total of 120 games (423 AB's), and missed 37 games due to a fractured thumb.
  • In 2007, he played a total of 130 games (483 AB's), and missed 27 games due to a stress fracture in his foot.
  • In 2008, he played a total of 121 games (518 AB's), and missed 37 games due to a sports hernia.

As you can see, Kinsler has never played more than 130 games, and has never exceeded 520 ABs in any of his three seasons in the majors.

For comparison’s sake, in the same three seasons combined (2006-2008), Kinsler has played fewer games than J.D. Drew (Kinsler 371, Drew 395).

Yes you read that right—Kinsler has played fewer games than the man known in Boston as "D.L. Drew".

So, what does all this mean?

I love Kinsler as a player, but I’m not willing to use a late first or early second round pick to get him.

It's difficult for a team to bounce back when it loses an early round pick to injury, and based on his history, Kinsler is a prime candidate to miss significant time this season. Add to it that I feel there are better values at second base later in the draft, (Jose Lopez in round 15 for example) and it’s extremely unlikely that Kinsler will show up on any of my fantasy teams.

That being said, it's hard to argue with the type of numbers Kinsler put up last year, not to mention where his numbers would have ended up had he not missed time due to injury.

If you are going to draft Kinsler, you need to protect yourself. To do so, you have to treat him like a running back in fantasy football, meaning you need a handcuff.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, to “handcuff” is when you draft the player you want and that player’s likely replacement as injury insurance. Based on draft position, the ideal handcuff is the aforementioned Jose Lopez (ADP of 175/ 15th round).

Lopez hit .297-17-89 in 2008, and should be a starter in all but the shallowest leagues.

If you can steal him in the 15th round, you’ll be golden if Kinsler gets hurt.

If Lopez isn’t available, others like Placido Polanco (ADP 213/18th round) or Orlando Hudson (ADP 223/19th round) are suitable options.

Remember, this is not someone you’ll be playing over Kinsler, but rather an insurance policy for a Kinsler injury.

Unfortunately, if Kinsler’s history is any indication, it’s not a matter of if he’ll get injured, but when.

Check out more fantasy baseball articles on the Pro Fantasy Baseball web site.