Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kinsler deal a steal for the Rangers

Three baseball fans are sitting in a sports bar talking baseball. One proclaims, "Cano and Pedroia are the two best second basemen in baseball." The second fan lets out a whoop and raises a beverage. The third, who is sitting with head down on folded arms pondering fantasy baseball picks, adds, "and Kinsler." The first two look at the third like seeing an alien. The first raises a bottle and says, "To Cano and Pedroia!" The second clinks bottles with the first and says, "Yeeeah!" The third raises a head and says more firmly, "And Kinsler!"

Ian Kinsler should always be in the same breath as Cano and Pedroia. He simply is not. Despite the Texas Rangers playing in the past two World Series, Kinsler is considered the third or fourth best player on his own team. Cano is considered the best player on his team. And Pedroia is the little engine that could. According to Tim McCarver, Pedroia is the "soul of the Boston Red Sox." But if you look at the Fangraphs.com leaderboard over the last two seasons, Cano has accumulated 12.1 fWAR despite no love for his defense. Pedroia has accumulated 11.5. Ian Kinsler has accumulated 11.4. In other words, Kinsler is right there with those other two.

Of all second basemen since 2010, Ian Kinsler has the second highest walk rate. The only one higher is Ben Zobrist, who is more a right-fielder these days than second baseman. No second baseman has a lower strikeout rate than Ian Kinsler. Kinsler has stolen more bases than any second basemen. His overall base running skills put him above all others at his position. Kinsler has been the fourth best fielding second baseman. He has scored the second most runs and hit the fourth most homers. He has an all-around game that has few weaknesses.

And that is why, five years at $75 million is a steal for the Rangers. Heck, Ian Kinsler's Fangraphs valuation over the past two seasons has been just shy of $50 million. Only injuries and/or a calamitous falloff in skills can ruin this deal. Ian Kinsler is one of the three best second basemen in all of baseball.

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