2014 Player Previews: 2B Ian Kinsler

Part of the blockbuster trade that sent Prince Fielder to Texas, the Tigers filled their hole at second base by acquiring Ian Kinsler in return. The three time All-Star will look to provide the Tigers a strong presence in the lineup and strong defense and leadership among a suddenly younger infield. But, can his offensive performance keep up away from the Ballpark in Arlington?

Ian Kinsler 2013 In Review

2013 Stats
Texas 614 2.5 .334 .277 .288 .313 .344 .413 9.6% 15/11 11 -0.3

Kinsler didn't have his best season in 2013, as his power numbers took a stumble with his slugging percentage falling to .413, his lowest since 2010 and second lowest of his career. Interestingly enough, while he's always been a much better hitter at home in Texas than on the road (career OPS of .898 at home vs. 710 on the road), he actually slugged ten points better on the road despite a 30 point discrepancy where his average is concerned.

Kinsler's .288 BAbip might seem low, but it's actually in line with his career average of .281, despite a higher expected average on balls in play. Kinsler's speed has often been considered an asset, but his stolen base success rate took a tumble in 2013, with his baserunning metric even proving out to be negative after historically being a well above average baserunner. It could simply be an anomaly, or it could be the product of him aging and being over 30 years old. Kinsler also spent some time on the DL with a rib strain, but it's unlikely that would have impacted his speed that much for an entire season.

Overall, the Tigers made a swap with the Rangers that would benefit them defensively and on the base paths, while hopefully coming close to match the offensive production they were getting out of Fielder, even if it won't be quite as much power. There are signs they could be, but his 2013 started to indicate some signs of aging.

2014 Player Projections

2014 Advanced Projections
Service PA WAR BA BAbip OBP SLG wOBA D-Val
ZiPS 629 3.5 .271 .285 .344 .420 .335 4
Steamer 684 3.4 .264 .273 .342 .429 .340 0.2
Oliver 600 3.4 .273 .285 .338 .406 .328 5.6

Despite the potentially alarming difference between Kinsler's performance at home and on the road, the projection systems don't show as much concern. All three see Kinsler posting an average around .270 with a solid but not spectacular slugging rate in the low .400's. All three wOBA's are within 12 points of each other, spanning .328 to .340, all in the range of being a very solid hitter for the team.

Comparing his 2014 projections to Fielder, it's a bit of a mixed bag. Some foresee a rebound season at the plate for Fielder, while others anticipate more of the 2013 struggles. The best case scenario for Fielder though only has him posting a WAR of 3.8, barely higher than the consensus of around 3 wins that Kinsler will help provide the Tigers, with his better baserunning and defense.

So long as there's not a massive fallout in production due to playing in less-hitter-friendly Comerica Park, this move appears to be one that will shape up well for the Tigers, despite losing the big bat in the middle of the order.

2014 Projections come from three different sources; ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver, all publicly available via FanGraphs.com and presented for information purposes only. ZiPS projections come from Dan Szymborski, Steamer from Steamer Projections, a trio of independent academic researchers, and Oliver Projections from Brian Cartwright.

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