Fielder-Kinsler Trade: Fantasy Winners, Losers Identified

The real baseball aspect of the trade which sent Prince Fielder to Texas and Ian Kinsler to Detroit has been covered in detail here at FanGraphs. I will give a look at how the trade affects the fantasy value of the players affected.


Jurickson Profar, Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus playing time– The three-head Texas infield monster needed to be broken up. Many people thought Kinsler would have been traded or moved to the outfield last off-season. Kinsler and Andrus now don’t have to have give up atbats to Profar. Basically, the trio would be splitting up about 1350 PA three ways (450 PA each if evenly divided). Now each hitter can hope to have over 600 each if they remain healthy. Kinsler may see a small production drop because of the new home park (92 vs 101 RHH HR PF) not being as kind to right-handed hitters, but it will be off set by the increase in plate appearances.

Nick Castellanos – The 22-year-old will likely be the Tigers third baseman to start the season. Initially, the highly touted prospect was a 3B, but when Fielder was signed and Cabrera moved back to 3B, he began playing in the outfield. Currently, Steamer projects he with .265/.313/.401 line with 12 HR and 5 SB in 531 PA. Eyeballing him into our End of Season Third Base Rankings, he belongs around the 20th to 24th round. Similar players are Chase Headley, Juan Uribe, and Nolan Arenado. I will bet he gets over drafted in re-draft league. In keepers leagues, he should go a bit higher based on future potential.

Tiger Pitchers – Both Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera should not be in the same infield defensively. While neither one was a complete failure at their position, they were as least below league average defenders. The lack of defense can be seen with the Tiger pitchers posting the 4th highest BABIP (.306) and ERA-FIP (.35) in the league.

The injured Tiger hitter – With Fielder gone, the Tigers now have a little more flexibility dealing with injuries, especially to Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera. If either one  is hurt, they can rest as the DH while the other plays 1B. Additionally, if someone else needs a day off as the DH, Cabrera can slide back to 3B and Martinez can play 1B.

AL-only league fantasy owners of Kinsler and Fielder –  Neither player is moving leagues, so everyone gets to keep their players.


Prince Fielder production – Overall, I just don’t see a ton of change for 30-year-old because of the move. Even though the Rangers line may not be as good as the Tigers (4.5 R/G vs 4.9 R/G in 2013), the Texas offense is still one of the leagues best. His home runs should be the same since he is going from a park with a 110 LH HR park factor to one with 108 value. With the small losses previously stated, he will be helped by the ability to play DH or 1B if he needs a day off or is nursing an injury.


Mitch Moreland‘s playing time – The 28-year-old Moreland is a league average hitter and is not exactly the player a team wants holding down the 1B or DH position. As of now, he will still be full time DH with some time at 1B. He could easily see less plate appearances if the Rangers bring in a real DH (Morales) or sign a decent hitting catcher (McCann). As the off-season continues, Moreland’s value can only decrease.

Ian Kinsler‘s or Torii Hunter‘s lineup position – Kinsler and Hunter got a decent amount of value from hitting at the top of the Texas lineup. They each got extra plate appearances and the chance to be driven in or drive in runs. I see one having to move down to the 5th sport in the Tiger’s lineup. While they may see more RBI chances, will likely see about 50 less plate appearances if they were batting 5th vice 2nd. Overall, one will just have less chances to accumulate counting stats.

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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

36 Responses to “Fielder-Kinsler Trade: Fantasy Winners, Losers Identified”

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  1. LarryA says:

    Do you think Beltre will move to 3rd in the order from cleanup, with Prince slotting in behinf him?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Probably. With Texas, I really expect them to make at least one more meaningful move, so expect some more changes with possibly Beltre moving up to the #2 spot.

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  2. Patrick says:

    Why not move Ajax down to 5? Similar OBP, far less SO for Kinsler.

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    • Brandon says:

      Jackson is a better overall baserunner.

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    • MDL says:

      Jackson brought positive value on the basepaths (5.6 BsR) in 2013, while Kinsler was average at best (-0.5). Interestingly this is a reversal from they’ve provided in previous years. However with Kinsler being over 30 now I wonder if speed is just no longer a significant part of his repertoire.

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    • jfree says:

      My guess is that Miggy moves to cleanup – with Torii/VMart swapping #3 and #5 depending on LHP/RHP.

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  3. Patrick says:

    Very interesting initial analysis of the aftermath of the trade. One point of contention I have, though, is with the final point that either Hunter or Kinsler will lose plate appearances. Dombrowski/Ausmus indicated last night in a conference call that Kinsler will be at the top of the line-up. So it’s Austin Jackson, not Kinsler, who stands to lose plate appearances. I might add, too, that AJax could stand to lose even more plate appearances than the approx. 50 or so Hunter would lose were he to be moved from 2nd to 5th/6th. If AJax gets moved down, it would likely be to 7th or 8th.

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    • MDL says:

      Why would they do that? The Tigers would be way under-utilizing AJax if they did that…

      IMO leave Jackson at leadoff (where his baserunning skills are a nice asset — 5.6 BsR in 2013 as mentioned above), Miggy at 3, VMart at 4, and pick your preference at 2 and 5 with Kinsler and Hunter.

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      • Patrick says:

        I agree with you re: Jackson’s value, and would not want to argue the case for dropping him in the order. I believe he should be hitting leadoff without question. It would seem rather strange to stick your fastest and best base runner down in the order to let two aging guys set the table for Miggy/VMart. Plus, Torii has shown an ability to change his approach at the plate to suit his lineup position, and may be able to become a good 5/6 hitter.

        But, then again, Dombrowski indicated last night only that Kinsler would be at the top of the lineup. That he didn’t say he would bat second would indicate to me there’s a possibility he will be leading off. The only point I was trying to make was that Kinsler’s being acquired, from an offensive standpoint, to bat early in the order. Logically, that would mean Hunter or Jackson being bumped. I believe that it COULD mean something that there has been no verbal commitment to Jackson batting first. He had a great breakout campaign in 2012 but reverted back to pre-2012 form last year, at the plate at least. I am not saying the reasons to move him down are good, just that it seems like something being considered. If I were Ausmus, I’d be patient for at least half a season on Jackson before I tried moving him.

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      • Patrick says:

        I guess it’s also true that Hunter’s contract ends after 2014, so the perceived “logjam” at the top of the order may not exist for long.

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      • Jim Bouldin says:

        “I agree with you re: Jackson’s value, and would not want to argue the case for dropping him in the order”

        Well I will definitely be glad to argue that case and it’s fairly simple: Jackson continues to strike out way too much for a leadoff hitter. Hunter ain’t so great either in the #2 spot, but he’s better than Jackson. Kinsler is far superior to either and therefore must bat either 1st or 2nd; based on his career experience let’s leave him at leadoff. Hunter can still pick em up and lay em down so bat him 2nd to keep out of DPs. That puts Jackson at #5 but with his K rate I’m not sure you want him there either, given that Cabrera and VMart will be on base a lot. So a legitimate argument can be made that

        If Ausmus wants to change Tiger offensive philosophy and start stealing and h/r more often, then you might make an argument for Jackson batting high in the order, but even then I’m not so sure because although he is fast, he has not displayed any eye-popping base stealing abilities in his limited chances in years past–he gets thrown out too much.

        Bottom line is that Jackson is still useful primarily for his excellent defense, not his offense.

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      • Jim Bouldin says:


        “So a legitimate argument can be made that”

        …Jackson should bat toward the bottom of the lineup, perhaps even ninth, to put speed on the basepaths ahead of Kinsler.

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    • bada bing says:

      Dombrowski doesn’t make the batting order, though – Ausmus does. And here is what Ausmus said during the same conference call:

      it gives us another option at the top of the order, the first two spots. Whether it’s Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Ian Kinsler; it’ll be determined at a later date. it’s not the be all, end all but it definitely gives us flexibility. it gives us a proven defensive and offensive second baseman with a lot of options.

      It is not as cut and dry as you make it- there is no guarantee that Kinsler will hit at the top of the order and that Jackson will be dropped.

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      • Patrick says:

        Interesting–I had my news second hand and had understood it as Ausmus and Dombrowski declared him at the top of the line up. Glad to see Ausmus will be keeping his mind open about it.

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  4. Patrick says:

    I could see a potential batting order like:

    1. AJax/Kinsler
    2. Kinsler/Torii
    3. Miggy
    4. VMart
    5. Torii/Free Agent 3B or OF
    6. Free Agent 3B or OF/Avila
    7. Avila/Castellanos+Dirks platoon
    8. Castellanos+Dirks/Ajax
    9. Iglesias

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    • Hunter Pence's Thorax says:

      Way to narrow it down to only 25 possible combinations

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      • Patrick says:

        My deepest apologies to you and your family. Thank you for your valuable insight into my failures.

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      • Wailand says:

        I thought it was a failure on your part too. Pence’s comment was snarky but not insulting.

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      • kdm628496 says:

        There are only 2 combinations:

        1. Ajax
        2. Kinsler
        3. Miggy
        4. VMart
        5. Torii
        6. Free Agent 3B or OF
        7. Avila
        8. Castellanos+Dirks
        9. Iglesias


        1. Kinsler
        2. Torii
        3. Miggy
        4. VMart
        5. Free Agent 3B or OF
        6. Avila
        7. Castellanos+Dirks platoon
        8. Ajax
        9. Iglesias

        Unless you’re complaining about the use of “Free Agent 3B or OF”.

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      • Patrick says:

        I don’t really get the snarkiness or see it as anything more than trolling. Boo! It was complicated!!

        But where did I err? I am trying to put myself in the organization’s shoes. It is not my fault there are question marks as to who the 9th player will be, assuming they’ll grab another free agent, or where the 9th guy will play, or the roles some of the other 8 will play in the lineup.

        There are nine line-up spots and I tried to create some order while attempting to reflect the current question marks in the Tigers lineups. If another reader isn’t interested in this thought experiment, no problem with me. But mocking the relative complexity with no semblance of specific criticism is just trolling.

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      • Patrick says:

        Thanks kdm,

        I was going to point out there are only two combos, too, but figured the trolls didn’t care anyways.

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  5. ron paul says:

    I’m surprised everyone considers A.Jackson their best leadoff option due to baserunning. He strikes out a ton!! He goes through long stretches where he struggles to get on base. OBP is more important than shear speed when considering leadoff hitters.

    A.Jackson had a .317 OBP in the second half, and was even worse in the playoffs. He struck out over half the time in the playoffs while leading off(terrible sample sizes obviously) and hit really well once dropped in the order. The lack of ab’s make it a pointless stat, but a stat that managers/GM’s/hitting coaches remember for far too long.

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  6. Hector says:

    Miggy is a loser in this deal. It’s probably not just a coincidence that his two MVP years came with Fielder next to him in the lineup. Miggy’s going to be seeing a lot fewer pitches to hit next year.

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  7. Eastern NC says:

    Okay, now I”m interested in Profar. Have him in a keeper league, so…..what does this do to Profar’s keeper ranking? Worth a top 5 round pick over a Machado, Puig, or Myers, or should I keep those types of guys?

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    • dirck says:

      Depends upon scoring system in your league . Much of Profar’s value is from defense and position . He may approach Machado on offense ,but seems unlikely to do so with Myers or Puig ,especially in power .

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  8. Gut feel commentary:

    1. AJAX will perform better with less pressure. Kinsler will lead off, followed by Hunter.
    2. Castellanos’s job to lose at third.
    3. Dombrowski will go “Oakland Moneyball” with left field platoon. Dirks + ?. Dirks was a finalist for Gold Glove. He has value even if he isn not hitting.

    Tigers main problem will be that they only have one power hitter now (Cabrera).

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  9. Brad Johnson says:

    On the topic of Moreland, he’ll probably pick up outfield eligibility. Depending on what the Rangers do with their outfield, he may even enter into a reliable platoon. As a fantasy owner, I like Moreland the platoon outfielder a lot more than Moreland the everyday first baseman.

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  10. Roger says:

    Have Comerica and Arlington had any recent changes affecting park factor? I’ve seen another source that put the LH HR PFs at 88 for Comerica and 119 for Arlington, and that was a better match for my impression of how the stadiums played. I’ll have to dig it up and see what they based it on. Another analysis I’d like to see is taking Fielder’s 2013 home field fly ball distances and mapping them to Arlington. I’m very skeptical that those parks are a wash for him.

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  11. Patrick M says:

    I am in need of advice. I am in a 13 team rotisserie keeper league. I am in the top 3 in my league in pitching and in the bottom 3 in offense. I am leading in Net SB’s. I have Jose Altuve and Brian Dozier.
    I received and offer of Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez for Altuve and Steve Delabar. Would you make this trade?

    Also, I am currently sitting in 4th place and I have yet to make a trade all season. I also have a lead in the SB category by 18 SB’s. FWIW

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