Kinsler’s Quick Start

Out of curiosity this afternoon, I was browsing through our leader boards when I confirmed that we did have a player, a single one, who had already accumulated a full win of value in this young season. Thanks in no doubt large part to his massive day at the plate on Wednesday, Ian Kinsler ended up with 9.4 batting runs over average. The boost over replacement was more than enough to crack the one win threshold.

Kinser’s wOBA currently stands at .600 coming into play Thursday. Though there’s no chance that he would be able to sustain that level of play over a full season; it does put Kinsler on pace for just shy of 170 batting runs in 2009.

Kinsler’s batting line has certainly been buoyed by good luck and his home park, but he’s also been driving the ball extremely well so far. A full quarter (or more depending on your batted ball source) of his balls in play have been line drives. Still, with six of the nine games in question taking place in the launching pad of Arlington, and 10 of Kinsler’s 11 extra-base hits coming at home, there are some flags showing through Kinsler’s fast start.

One look that might be telling is to look at Kinsler’s plate discipline. Doing so expands our sample a bit and also reveals any fundamental changes in Kinsler’s approach at the plate. In fact, all the shows through in this early stage is that Kinsler’s swing rate is up and oddly enough, his contact rate is down. It’s a pair of signals that run counter to the improved outcomes. All in all, it’s obviously too early to tell if there’s anything new or improved in Ian Kinsler‘s game. For now, he’ll just have to be content with being baseball’s first one win player of 2009.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


23 Responses to “Kinsler’s Quick Start”

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  1. Matt H. says:

    He was well on his way to contending for MVP before the injury last year. So methinks he is pretty darn good.

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  2. brent in Korea says:

    You didn’t mention in the article how many batting runs equals one win. You have to remember to go slow for some of us!

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  3. t ball says:

    It’s a bit lazy to just assume that Arlington is a launching pad of such significance. Baseball writers all over do this, but Baseball Reference shows nearly neutral park factors for the last 3 seasons (and is again so far this year), and in any case, the park is much more favorable to lefties than to a righty hitter like Kinsler. What park factors were you looking at when you wrote that? Arlington has been less of a hitters’ park in recent years and writers need to acknowledge that.

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    • And it’s lazy of you to assume that I just assumed TBiA is a hitters paradise.

      I subscribe to the park factors methodology outlined by David Gassko here. It is both the most complete and open-box method that I know of and it shows TBiA to still be one of the most hitter friendly stadia in the game.

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      • t ball says:

        My assumption is based on many, many articles on many websites, sorry to lump you in with all of them. I am frustrated because though writers constantly refer to park factors, and no one writes about Arlington without mentioning it, none of them explain exactly what those factors are, or just how much a factor the park is. They just write it as fact without explanation.

        Also, I have tried, to no avail, to understand the differences in park factors between BR and ESPN, and since I could not find park factors on this site I did not know what you were using. Where on this website are the park factors, or are they not listed and you’re just going off calculations using Gassko’s method? Where would I find Gassko’s method?

        Is it not true that the ballpark helps lefties more than righties? If not, can you point me to an article or Gassko’s method so that I can understand your point better? Are win values not park neutral? In other words, for those of us who don’t do this all day, what exactly is the park factor in Arlington and where are Gassko’s numbers posted? This site rocks, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to search for old articles.

        Why have the park factors for BR been neutral the last 3 seasons? Why aren’t Gassko’s numbers? I want to understand but I have had little luck trying to get more information. Appreciate any light you can shed on this for me, I am not a statistician.

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      • t ball says:

        A little bit more. I have read Gassko’s article over at THT from March 20, 2008, and downloaded his spreadsheet. It shows the 2007 Rangers park as 1.02 for 1B, 0.98 for 2B (a big part of Kinsler’s start, 7 doubles, so far), and 1.1 for HRs, good for 9th in baseball. Are these 2007 numbers more or less consistent with 2008 and other seasons? This spreadsheet doesn’t have splits, does Gassko figure those, too?

        Obviously, Kinsler is not going to keep this pace up, but I do think he’d have had a ridiculous week in any park since the factors above don’t seem to help doubles.

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      • Snark says:

        tball, if I’m reading it right, Gassko’s spreadsheet shows the 5-year, regressed park factors for each category, so we’re looking at numbers reflecting 2003-2007 overall; as a result, I’d be surprised if shifting the frame a year (to look at 2004-2008) made a huge difference.

        Looking at Kinsler’s home/away splits, it’s notable that last season there’s not a glaring disparity in his overall numbers (tOPS+ of 103 at home and 97 away); Kinsler’s SLG was, in fact, higher on the road than at RBiA (.530 to .504), while his BA, OBP, and BABiP reflects the opposite (.335/.367/.394 at home to .303/.301/.356 on the road).

        Matthew, I’d also be interested to know what about Gassko’s (and Kinsler’s) numbers lead you to discount Kinsler’s performance on the basis of RBiA’s effects. In fact, I’d suggest that if there the park factors of interest (if any) are for Detroit; Gassko’s numbers for Comerica Park suggest that it’s not exactly a paradise for Kinsler’s offensive game. And, of course, the Rangers have stunk in Detroit recently…

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      • Snark says:

        Argh. I botched those last sets of numbers; they should be taken BA/BABiP/OBP.

        And that next-to-last sentence should read: “I’d suggest that if there are park factors of interest, they’re for Detroit; Gassko’s numbers for Comerica Park suggest that it’s not exactly a paradise for Kinsler’s offensive game.”

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      • t ball says:

        Snark, thanks for pointing that out, I forgot that Gassko’s spreadsheet was for multiple years. I’d still like to know two things:
        1. Why do BR’s park factors show a decidedly less hitter-friendly environment for 2006-2008?
        2. Why should I trust Gassko’s numbers more than BR’s or ESPN’s?
        3. Does anyone have good data on L-R splits?
        4. When talking about what is basically a stupidly hot streak and a very small sample, is there even a point to mentioning the park factor?

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  4. Don’t forget that Kinsler has also been buoyed by facing the Orioles pitching staff. That helps the ol’ batting line.

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    • Big Oil says:

      Did you watch any of the games on MASN? I only ask because of your website and the assumption you are in close proximity to the area. If so, did you notice how Gary Thorne pronounced Kinsler’s name? Possibly the most annoying thing of the entire series. It went something like “KIN-ssssss-lar” with a hybrid “lt” sound showing through in the final syllable every other time. It killed me.

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  5. KingKirkpatrick says:

    THE EPIC IS SHUTTING DOWN KINSLER TONIGHT!!!!

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  6. Tim Perkins says:

    The rain may shut Kinsler down tonight, but not anything or anyone else.

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  7. KingKirkpatrick says:

    THE EPIC SHUTS THEM DOWN!!!!!

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  8. KingKirkpatrick says:

    Them = entire Rangers offense. Shutout for six innings.

    Royals pitching is legit!!!!! Over a K per inning for the entire staff so far this year. Sick.

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  9. KingKirkpatrick says:

    Gil Meche. Zack Greinke. Kyle Davies . . . ?

    Don’t bother Texas Rangers offense.

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  10. LeoCruz says:

    I took a look at Kinsler’s splits and im a little worried. He’s batting .220 against righties this year, and is hitting .167 on the road. Should i worry?

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  11. kris says:

    I’ve noticed more and more hostility directed towards writers on fangraphs for no good reason. It’s almost gotten to the point where omitting a single fact is the equivalent of a punch in the nuts. It’s sad…

    Anyways, I didn’t realize Kinslers splits were so ridiculous..

    But, breaking it down, it’s pretty clear that Kinsler’s faced some damn good pitching thus far.. 0/7 against the King, didnt play well against the Jays during their hot streak.. seeing pitchers for the first time..

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