- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

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:

kinsler1

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:

Kinsler_Ian_2013_scatter

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:

BA OBP SLG ISO
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.