Ian Kinsler is one of the more polarizing figures in Rangers' recent history. Fans fell in love with Kinsler and his high socks when he first entered the league back in 2006, but his recent dip in power and average have many fans asking what has happened to the 30-30 player from just a few years ago.
In 2008, Kinsler put together his most complete season batting .319 with 18 home runs and 26 stolen bases. In 2009, Kinsler reached the 30-30 club when he blasted 31 home runs and swiped 31 bases.
So, what has happened to the former All-Star second baseman?
He is becoming a better situational player.
Now don't get me wrong, he is not playing the same ball as he was playing in 2008, but he is definitely becoming a better leadoff hitter.
An easy proof of this is his patience at the plate. You want a leadoff guy that will take pitches, make the pitcher work and put up a high on-base percentage. Through 85 games, Kinsler has done just that by drawing 56 walks, which puts him on pace for right around 100 through a full season. In 2008, he had 45 walks in 121 games, and in 2009 he had 59 in 144 games. This has led to an on-base percentage that is the second highest among all second basemen despite having a batting average in the .250s.
Digging a little deeper, he is drawing a walk in 14 percent of his plate appearances, which is up from 7.7 in his breakout 2008 season while also reducing his strikeout percentage to a career low of 10 percent.
The lack of aggression at the plate has translated into more aggression on the base paths. The extra-base taken stat looks into how many times a player takes an extra base on a single or an extra two bases on a double. Kinsler's extra-base taken percentage is at a career high of 66 percent, which ranks ninth in the American League.
Sure, he is batting .253, which doesn't look all that great, but look what he has been able to do by taking a different approach at the plate.
Among second basemen, he has the second most runs and walks while also having the third fewest strikeouts among players that have played at least 80 games. He has the most stolen bases with 19 while only being caught twice. The power numbers are still there with 13 home runs and 20 doubles.
There is reason to believe that his average is coming around as well. On June 5, Kinsler's average was sitting at .220 with seven home runs. Since then he has raised his average 33 points while nearly doubling his home run total with six. Over his last seven games, he is batting .379 with two home runs, five walks and four stolen bases.
So, will Ian Kinsler rediscover his offensive potential? Who is to say he ever lost it?
All stats via baseball-reference.com and mlb.com