Rebound or Bust: Which Ian Kinsler Will Show Up In 2011?

When you mention the name Ian Kinsler, there are a few thoughts that likely instantly come to mind:

  1. Extremely disappointing 2010
  2. Injury prone
  3. 20/20 upside

We all know he is likely going to miss at least a little bit of time at some point in 2011.  He has never played more than 144 games in a season (2009) and played in just 103 last season.  When you draft him, you do so expecting to have to utilize a replacement option.

The real question, however, is if he can rebound from ’10 and reach that potential upside, just like he did in ’09.  Before we can answer that, let’s look at how bad he was last year:

391 At Bats
.286 Batting Average (112 Hits)
9 Home Runs
45 RBI
73 Runs
15 Stolen Bases
.382 On Base Percentage
.412 Slugging Percentage
.313 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Outside of his OBP, which was actually significantly better than his ’09 mark (.327), and his average (.253) the numbers were extremely disappointing.  You can blame it on injuries all you want, but even when he was on the field the production just wasn’t there.

The improvement in average and OBP are extremely explainable and we’ll get to that in a moment.

You notice that I said 20/20 potential in the intro, despite the fact that he actually went 30/30 in ’09 (31 HR, 31 SB).  The fact of the matter is that there is little chance that he replicates the power number, specifically.  Just look at his fly ball percentage for the past five years:

  • 2006 – 44.2%
  • 2007 – 45.7%
  • 2008 – 43.3%
  • 2009 – 54.0%
  • 2010 – 41.6%

Which of these numbers doesn’t belong?  That fly ball rate not only helps to explain the fall in power, but also the improvement in the average department.  Fly balls don’t lend themselves to good luck, meaning a low BABIP is expected.  Look no further than his .241 mark in ’09 for proof.  Getting away from being a bit homer happy helped Kinsler get back to being a good option in both the average and OBP departments.

The Rangers plan on taking advantage of that improvement in 2011.  According to Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, “Manager Ron Washington said that he is planning to have Ian Kinsler bat leadoff in 2011 and move Michael Young to sixth in the lineup so that he can be in a spot where he will have an opportunity to drive in more runs. Elvis Andrus will bat second, Young’s former spot.”

That should give him a good chance to return to the days of scoring 95+ runs (as he did from 2007-2009).  Yes, it will likely lead to fewer RBI opportunities, but that really shouldn’t be Kinsler’s game.  He’s not a big-time power hitter and, hitting him lower in the order, will only expose him further.

Kinsler should be a top-of-the-order option where he can get on base, steal a few bags and score plenty of runs.  If you draft him expecting someone who is going to hit 30 HR and drive in at least 85, you are going to be sorely disappointed.  Basically, put 2009 out of your mind, because it is not likely to be repeated.

What we should be looking for is the player he was in 2007 & 2008, meaning 20 HR, 25+ SB and 95+ R.  If he can do that, what is there to complain about?

What are your thoughts on Kinsler?  What are you expecting from him in 2011?

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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

5 comments

  1. I am expecting in a few days that Kinsler “tweaked” a hamstring and than all of a sudden its May 1 and we hear “he is close to coming back” and than we are at June 1 and he finally makes his debut.

  2. RollTideTaylor says:

    I actually think Andrus would be a better leadoff hitter for the Rangers, and Kinsler woud make a better two hitter.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I wouldn’t have a problem with them working it either way, honestly. As long as Kinsler is hitting towards the top of the order, and not as a middle of the order bat, I think he’ll have more potential value.

  3. Eric says:

    I am in a 10 team H-to-H scoring keeper league and wonder if he is keeper worthy. I get 2 and have Kinsler and Posey(c) but also R Braun and Colorado’s Gonzalez in the OF. Leaning towards the OF but worry about position scarcity.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      To me, keeping a lesser player because of position is the wrong way to go. Braun & CarGo are both 1st round talents and are easy keepers, without question. You would have no chance of getting both of them back in the draft.

      Kinsler and Posey, however, are certainly players that you will have an opportunity to draft, and potentially not even with your first round pick.

      Definitely keep Braun & CarGo.

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