Ian Kinsler In Decline

With two 30-30 seasons in his resume, there was a time when it was quite fashionable to select Ian Kinsler as early as the first round in fantasy drafts. 2012 was a down year by his standards, but the lure of a rebound season still kept his price tag hefty with a $20-plus average auction cost and an average draft position in the 20’s. It suffices to say that he lacked a return on investment in 2013.

Perhaps we all had unreasonable expectations for Ian Kinsler, but all told, he ranked just seventh in the overall rankings at second base, according to the mathematical dexterity of one Zach Sanders. His line of .277/.344/.413 wasn’t bad, and actually represented a three year high in the batting average category. But 13 home runs and 15 stolen bases just doesn’t substantiate a third round pick.

On the issue of counting stats, let’s take to a visual:


Not an encouraging trend. Let’s also not forget that one of his home runs was an inside-the-park variety thanks to Dayan Viciedo, characterized rather hilariously by this image:


Even when Kinsler had off years in the power department, he could still be relied on to score 100+ runs. In fact, Kinsler had scored 100 or more runs for four years straight, and 96 in 2007 when he played in just 130 games. But in 2013, that also unraveled as he scored just 85 runs.

In his career, Kinsler has always been a lefty killer. His career numbers against southpaws is .309/.384/524 with an ISO of .214. The comparison to 2013 is telling:

Career 0.309 0.384 0.524 0.214
2013 0.306 0.375 0.439 0.134

He’s still getting his hits and walks, but the power just evaporated. And speaking of evaporating power, it’s also concerning that Kinsler hit just four home runs in 307 second half plate appearances while slashing .273/.328/.393 with an ISO of just .120. True, he was playing through bumps and bruises, but if we’ve learned anything over Kinsler’s career, it’s that he’s frequently on the trainers table — yet he’s been able to still produce at a near-elite level. Until 2013, that is.

Expectations going forward should be significantly tempered. Steamer has Kinsler at .264/.342/.432 with 19 home runs, 93 runs, and 20 stolen bases. Basically, they’re saying you’ll get the 2012 version of Ian Kinsler rather than the 2013 version — which very well could happen. But even with that line, there’s not much that separates him from an Aaron Hill type, a guy you’ll likely get in a more reasonable round.

Kinsler turns 32 in June, and his production is starting to look like a very tidy fit with an aging decline graph. I’m just as guilty as the next guy of having a hard time forgetting star-level performance but when it comes to Kinsler, I’ll be typing in my draft spreadsheet, “a good, not great, second base option with a dark cloud lurking.” I’d view him as a guy to grab if he falls ridiculously far in the draft, or a good option for a middle infield position should you have one. There is of course the possibility of upside in Kinsler, just don’t count it.

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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

6 Responses to “Ian Kinsler In Decline”

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  1. Daniel says:

    Don’t forget to mention the decline in walks, increase in Ks and practically all plate discipline values over the last 3 years. He’s declining not only from a fantasy standpoint.

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    • Daniel says:

      huh, I just checked his page and he actually bounced back in the K/SwStr department last year. Must have had some improvement towards the end of the season I didn’t notice

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  2. Rob says:

    I never liked KInsler too much, and outside of 2011 (and arguably ’09 although he missed some time) he’s either underperformed or been injured in every season of his career. You could rationalize him as a sexy second round pick because of the upside. Now the upside appears to be nowhere near what it used to be, and the risk is still there.

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    • Cybo says:

      Agreed. Personally I’d be inclined to pass on Kinsler and take Utley a few rounds later.

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      • Rob says:

        Interesting to see Utley has higher WAR over both of the past two years as well as 2010, despite missing some serious time himself and being four years older. Granted for fantasy purposes WAR is not the best stat and you’d probably have rather had Kinsler because he’s played more, but when he’s been on the field Utley has been more productive.

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  3. rustydude says:

    Dayan Viceido deserves a writeup of his own, once you get to the outfielders. The guy is hilariously bad on defense and when at the plate vs right handers. Which makes him pretty much useless. On the other hand, in my league’s auction this year, he went for $17, so some people thought he was good.

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