by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Ian Kinsler has long been considered one of the better second baseman in the game, though he’s coming off a down year overall. That has led to questions as to whether age has caught up with him and if the production may never return. Would that make him unusable? Could he rebound? Let’s try to answer those questions, first looking at last year’s numbers:
551 At Bats
.236 Batting Average (130 Hits)
22 Home Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.313 On Base Percentage
.412 Slugging Percentage
.244 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Obviously there was still some power and speed, it was his average that dragged down his value significantly. It appears that he’s shifted his approach in recent seasons, trying to continue to produce power. Just look at the trend of his fly ball rate over the past five seasons:
- 2013 – 39.4%
- 2014 – 42.9%
- 2015 – 40.7%
- 2016 – 44.5%
- 2017 – 46.5%
He did lower the mark as the season went along (44.0% in the second half), but it’s still an elevated mark. It’s not outrageous, but for a player who isn’t going to be an elite power hitter it is a small red flag.
However, that’s actually where the concerns end. While he may have lost a step given his age, it doesn’t appear that he’s lost his bat speed. He posted an overall 6.2% SwStr% last season while staying in the strike zone (27.2% O-Swing%), and his Whiff% of 5.80% against fastballs is highly impressive.
While a loss of speed may impact his BABIP, and he also carries an elevated popup rate (14.4% in ’17), there’s little reason to believe that he’s this bad. There truly was some poor luck at play behind the numbers, and there’s little reason to think that he won’t rebound back into the .260+ range.
Obviously at 35-years old he’s not going to be able to continue on as the same player he once was. That said, there’s no true red flag that makes us think that he’s primed to completely fall off a cliff either. Think of him as a player with a .260/16/7 floor, with the potential to produce even more than that.
Maybe that’s not elite, but that’s solid and has value. Don’t make the mistake of looking at last year’s average and assuming that he won’t be able to produce once again in ’18.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: