Jun 30, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) hits a single in the third inning against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
#4: Ian Kinsler
Through much of the first half of last season, Ian Kinsler might have been in contention for the team MVP. He was especially appreciated because whenever a trade happens, the players are often stacked against each other to see who “won the trade.” With Prince Fielder‘s early struggles, and eventual injury that cost him the season, it appeared the Tigers had gotten the better of the blockbuster deal of last offseason.
His always stellar defense was matched by a potent offense that kept his average north of .300 and earned him an All-Star nod. But his second-half was a disaster at the plate to the tune of a line of .239/.270/.357. But if you were familiar with Kinsler during his Texas days, fast starts and slow finishes were nothing new. In 2013 he had a high water mark of .342 on May 2, was still in the .300s in June but finished with a .277 average. Each of the two previous years also followed this pattern.
The track record says that Kinsler will be solid early. That is good should Miggy and/or V-Mart miss time in April, but for the Tigers to truly compete in the AL Central, Ian’s bat needs to be consistent all season long.
Kinsler will always have value with the glove, but with the return of Jose Iglesias, the team already has a glove-first middle infielder.