In the first half of 2008, Ian Kinsler was in the discussion for the most valuable fantasy player, as he posted a .337-14-58-84-23 line. But in the second half of the season, two things happened to Kinsler that seem to happen pretty often. His production took a nosedive and he got hurt.
In 131 plate appearances after the break, Kinsler had a .258/.300/.417 line, which was 228 points of OPS lower than his total from the first half. In his three-year career in the majors, Kinsler has an .891 OPS before the All-Star break and a .755 mark afterwards. Many analysts dismiss splits, especially those involving pre and post All-Star break. But given that Kinsler has shown this for three straight years, perhaps it should be given some extra weight. The heat in Texas can do strange things to ballplayers.
That brings us to injuries. Kinsler’s 2008 season ended when he suffered a sports hernia. In 2007 he missed significant time due to a foot injury. And his rookie season was cut short thanks to a thumb injury. He has yet to play more than 130 games in a season.
Kinsler is in the discussion for top fantasy second baseman due to his power-speed combo. With the uncertainty surrounding Chase Utley, he might even be the first player from the position drafted. Kinsler reported no lingering issues from the surgery and is expected healthy for the start of Spring Training.
But before you spend a high pick on Kinsler, remember that injury history. Some fantasy players will take Kinsler’s 2008 stats and pro-rate them over a full season. That’s a dangerous thing to do given his history. Even with the injury, Kinsler was a top 20 fantasy hitter last year. Expecting him to improve significantly on that seems extra risky, especially once you factor in last year’s .339 BABIP, which was 27 points above his career average.