Mar 5, 2015; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) waves to fans before the start of the spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
(This is the third installment in my series in which I will be breaking down the Detroit Tigers position by position for the upcoming season. For the first two parts, Catcher and First Baseman, click on the position).
In the 2013 offseason, the Detroit Tigers had to decide what they wanted to do at second base. Whether it was to try to keep Omar Infante, or go another route, the Tigers had a major hole to fill. But nobody expected what would happen next.
The Tigers then acquired former Texas Ranger Ian Kinsler for then Tiger first baseman Prince Fielder. In a move that shocked everyone, the Tigers brought one of the best second baseman in the league to fill that need.
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Fast forward a year after that trade, and Kinsler has filled in great at the second base position.
In the 2014 season, Kinsler hosted .275/.307/.420 with 17 HR and 92 RBI’s in his first season as a Tiger. Kinsler also displayed his ability to field, having a .988 FPCT which ranked 6th in the MLB among second baseman last year.
LIke Miguel Cabrera, there’s not much arguing to whether Kinsler is fighting for his job or not. Kinsler has shown that he should be the everyday second baseman for the Tigers.
The only concern with Kinsler is whether or not age will catch up to him.
Kinsler, 32, has shown that age isn’t stopping him from hitting well, as shown by the numbers earlier in the article. The same with Kinsler’s fielding, as he’s proved that he can still be an effective fielder.
The only possible issue that may arise with Kinsler’s age, is his ability on the base paths.
Kinsler’s steals from the past few years have noticeably dwindled down, going from 30 in 2011, 21 in 2012, to 15 each season in 2013 and 2014. With this, his caught stealing totals have also increased, going from four in 2011, nine in 2012, to 11 in 2013 and back down to four in 2014.
Even though Kinsler’s caught stealing total went back down to four, that combined with the amount of stolen bases he had last year, means Kinsler only had 19 steal attempts in his first year in Detroit.
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It could be that Kinsler is becoming a smarter base runner, and is being more precise when choosing to steal or not, which is most likely the case since the Tigers jumped from 30th in the league in steals in 2013 (35), to 7th in the league in steals in 2014 (106).
On the other hand, it could also be that with his age, his speed could be starting to regress, as it is with a good amount of base stealers in the MLB (not named Juan Pierre).
Whether it’s because of age or not, Kinsler should still be able to be active on the base paths, as well as with the bat and glove this season. Detroit fans should expect the same production from last year out of Kinsler.
Do you think Kinsler will be able to produce the numbers he has in years past? Do you think is age getting to him or that age doesn’t apply to him? Share your opinion in the comment section below.