While getting rid of Prince Fielder’s contract was a big plus for the Detroit Tigers, Ian Kinsler makes them a better ball team. Austin Jackson has been the Tigers leadoff hitter since his arrival in Detroit. The organization, and the fans, have patiently waited for him to develop into a leadoff hitter. Arguably, he was the first in the lineup by default because he was fast.
The main reason that Ian Kinsler makes the Tigers better is because he strikes out less. Over the last three years, his K% has been 9.6%, 12.3%, and 9.8 percent. Not too shabby. Although we all remember Placido Polanco in 2006 with a k% of 5.5%. Nostalga aside, look at Jackson’s numbers for the same period 21%, 21%, 27%. So he was striking out more than twice out every ten trips versus Kinsler striking out just under once per 10 trips.
Many of the other statistics are more similar than I expected. Last year:
OBP .337 .344
wOBA .332 .334
wRAA 9 9.8
Runs 99 85
Similar, but Jackson is edged in every category, but runs.
One of the main benefits of Kinsler at leadoff is that Jackson gets to bat further down the lineup. He benefited from the move down the lineup card in the playoffs last year. If this trend continues, he could provide a boast to the lineup the Tigers are going to need. Jackson is not going to replace Prince, but he could provide a solid bat in the bottom half of the lineup.
The Tigers motivation in getting Ian Kinsler can be questioned. The trade was motivated, at least in part, by money. But it makes the top of the lineup better. The Tigers have the best pitching in the league, they just need to score runs. Ian Kinsler allows them a better chance to score runs at the top of the lineup than Jackson did.