Breaking News: the Detroit Tigers have struggled recently. They did just go 3-2 in the recent home stand against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners, but the Tigers still find themselves in 2nd in the AL Central and for the 2nd Wild Card spot. The struggles are due to plenty of reasons, but mostly revolve around the bullpen who cannot hold a lead and the lineup that is not producing the runs necessary to win in other games. A player who needs to step up offensively for the Tigers to turn their woes around is Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler was integral to the Tigers’ success early in the season which led to his appearance in the All-Star Game in July. Kinsler’s first half numbers were a robust .303/.337/.434 with 11 home runs, 51 RBI, 10 steals, 26 doubles, 18 walks, and 41 strikeouts in 90 games. In that time the Tigers went 53-38.
Since the break, Kinsler has a .227/.254/.273 split with 0 home runs, 13 RBI, 2 steals, 6 doubles, 4 walks, and, 17 strikeouts in 30 games. In that time, the Tigers record is 13-18. If you take all of those numbers and spread them out over the same stretch as the first half’s 90 games, that comes out to 0 home runs, 39 RBI, 6 steals, 18 doubles, 12 walks, and 51 strikeouts.
One of Kinsler’s biggest drop-offs this year has been his walk rate. Kinsler has had an average walk rate through his career of 9.1%, but that rate is all the way down to 4.1%. Kinsler is going to need to work pitchers more which should help the rest of his numbers. Overall, Kinsler has been a little above average at the plate when you add up his all-star first half with his scuffling second half. His wRC+ is 103 when 100 is the average.
One of the other things it has seemed that Kinsler does when he is struggling is pop the ball up. Overall in 2014, Kinsler’s line drive rate is the lowest it has been since 2011. According to FanGraphs, Kinsler is hitting 19.0% of his balls for line drives, compared to 23.7% in 2013 and 20.1% in 2012. In 2014, Kinsler is hitting 44.2% fly balls which is about average for him. The number which is way up is his popup (infield fly ball) percentage which is 13.5%. For reference, Victor Martinez is hitting those at a rate of 5.5%. Kinsler’s number does not include the weak fly balls to the outfield which seem to be up lately.
Ian Kinsler is not the only Tigers player that needs to step up for the Tigers to make it into the playoffs and make a run through October, but he is definitely a piece to solve the puzzle that are your 2014 Detroit Tigers. Kinsler is a part of the middle of the order that needs to produce. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez need to produce behind Kinsler, but Kinsler needs to be on base in front of the and drive in the players on base in front of him for this team to get back on track.