Jon Heyman reported that Ian Kinsler was traded to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder. We got ourselves an old school baseball trade, folks. But what does this trade mean for the fantasy baseball value of Ian Kinsler?
Remember that Ian Kinsler has had multiple 30/30 seasons on his fantasy baseball resumé. It wasn’t too long ago that he was a reasonable first round reach in fantasy drafts and he’s always worn the old school socks. However, 2013 was evidence that his skills were in decline. He’ll turn 32 this season and it’s sad to say that his skills are lining up with the aging curve. But while I do want to share a little more bad news with you, I promise I won’t leave you there entirely.
Kinsler had just 13 home runs in 2013. He’s long known to be a player who absolutely killed lefties, slugging 0.524 against them for his career, so it’s too bad that over 70% of MLB starters pitch from the right side. Still, it’s odd that he didn’t flash more power in 2013, especially while hitting in Arlington.
All but two of his home runs were dead pull out to left field, with one lone opposite field shot and an inside-the-parker that was the result of Dayan Viciedo being a big goober in left field. Now that Kinsler will be playing more games against the Chicago White Sox, we can cross our fingers that his inside-the-park home run total can get a boost.
Ian Kinsler’s power has always been derived from a combination of a solid contact rate and the fact that Kinsler hits a ton of fly balls. On top of the fly balls hurting his batting average, his HR/FB rate has never been much to write about, and he’s never really been a power hitter in the classic sense. So in 2013 when many of those fly balls were merely pop ups (he has an uppercut swing), or they simply went as lazy fly outs because his average distance dropped, so went his home run totals.
As for the good news, it’s an OK bet to think that his stolen base totals will again return over 20, but the real possibility could be his run totals. Runs is an often overlooked stat in fantasy and we forget that Ian Kinsler rolled off a string of 100 plus run seasons. He’s always been a good on base guy and there is no reason to think he’ll spend less time on the base paths in Detroit.
The variable will be his spot in the lineup. Obviously, to hit in front of Miguel Cabrera could send his run total back over 100 (it dipped to 85 in 2013). Time will tell on this as batting order and lineup construction has as much to do with runs scored as do on base skills.
Don’t expect his move to Detroit to spark a return to Kinsler’s excellent 2011 season. But fantasy expectation in 2014 could reasonably be a return to his 2012 form. If that’s the case you are looking at a line around .265 / 100 runs / 17 homers / 20 stolen bases.
That’s good, but not super great. It’s certainly not good enough to return him to the top of the fantasy baseball second baseman chart, even with his apparent change of scenery.