Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why Does Ian Kinsler Bat Leadoff?

After watching Ian Kinsler hit two homers in his first two at bats the other night, this writer wondered why this very good second baseman bats first in the batting order. He has a .545 Slugging Percentage over his last 365 days and already has 17 homers this year (despite having an off year at the plate). So as usual, when the Fan gets a thought, he traveled to, that handy dandy stat site.

First of all, he isn't especially adept at getting on base batting in the first position. He has a career batting average when leading off the game of .263 and his OBP is only .322. Secondly, he isn't especially better leading off any inning, batting .278 with a .332 OBP. Next, he is very good batting with runners in scoring position, where over his career, his numbers are: .325/.405/.536. The conclusion then is that he is the perfect kind of guy for batting third or fourth in the batting order, not first.

Kinsler is an excellent base stealer. He doesn't steal a lot and will steal about 25 a year, but he rarely gets caught. So that is a plus for a leadoff batter. He rarely strikes out, which is also a plus. But his OBP is good, but not terrific for a leadoff guy. It's in the .350 range which is lower than Damon and others have been.

Kinsler is a terrific, young player who is only going to get better. This seems a situation much like the Hanley Ramirez situation in Florida where sooner or later, you have to consider moving him to the heart of the order to let him drive those runs in.

1 comment:

Josh Borenstein said...

Yeah, I definitely agree with you. It's not that Kinsler is a bad leadoff hitter, but I think he would be better utilized in the heart of the lineup. The Hanley comparison is valid. Grady Sizemore and Curtis Granderson also come to mind.