Over the past year, Ian Kinsler has been steadily falling down people's wish lists and deservedly so. He has never been able to shake the injury bug as he has only played in more than 130 games once in his five-year career. Most recently, Kinsler is coming off an injury-riddled campaign where he only amassed nine home runs and 15 steals. Those number are not really meeting the expectations of the top 20 player that we all envisioned him to be.
But it's not all bad, and I would wait to see if there are any sharks in that water before I jump ship.
While Kinsler's production slipped last year, there are a couple trends that offer some encouragement going into the 2011 season.
Over the last three seasons, Kinsler's walk rate has improved from 7.7 percent to 12.2 percent while his strikeout rate has been very consistent. This improved plate discipline should help Kinsler hit for a better batting average. But what about his batting average, which has been up-and-down for his entire career?
In 2009, Kinsler batted a career-low .259, but it's safe to say that luck wasn't on his side as his .241 BABIP was much lower than his .293 career mark. And if you look at his career line-drive percentages, you will also see that he hit for a career-low 15.9 line-drive percentage in that season. In his other four seasons Kinsler has not dipped under 18.4 percent. It's fair to assume that he should not post a BABIP that poor again and should be able to maintain a .285 batting average.
Another interesting trend is Kinsler's increasing power before it's vanishing act last year.
In spring training last season, Kinsler suffered a sprained ankle that held him out until April 26. If you look at Kinsler's ISO splits, you will notice that he gained more power each month, which tells me that it took him a little while to regain his power stroke. This is an encouraging sign for the coming year because with him in the middle of the Texas Rangers' lineup his RBI numbers should spike and make him more comparable to other top second basemen such as Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, and Dustin Pedroia.
Look for Kinsler to regain those home run numbers and increase his RBI totals while keeping his batting average up. Now if only we could get him to stay healthy...
.287 BA | 82 R | 21 HR | 94 RBI | 24 SB
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