Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler Could Be Surprise MVP Candidate
Earlier in the week, ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez made waves in the baseball community when he stated that he believed that Yoenis Cespedes could be the American League MVP for the Detroit Tigers.
A more intriguing possibility, however, is Detroit’s second baseman, Ian Kinsler.
In 2014, Kinsler was one of the more valuable Tigers. After coming over from Texas in a trade for Prince Fielder, the veteran infielder proved to be one of the most important members of the team.
Despite posting an ugly line of .239/.270/.357 in the second half of the season, Kinsler hit .275, with 17 HR, 92 RBI, and 40 doubles. Beyond that, he finished with 15 stolen bases and a 5.5 WAR, which was third amongst all second baseman.
A major reason for Kinsler’s highest WAR total since 2011 was his outstanding defense. He finished first in DWAR (2.9) as well as second in assists (467), and put-outs (290). Furthermore, he only had nine errors on the year.
In 2015, if he can even out his first and second half splits, it is not unrealistic to believe that Kinsler could thrust himself into the conversation for MVP.
So far, Kinsler is hitting .455, with 7 RBIs, and a .480 OBP. In addition, he has posted a .591 slugging percentage, and a 1.071 OPS.
Yes, it has only been five games, and Kinsler must stay consistent to truly enter the conversation, but if he can, it could result in a special season.
First of all, regardless of his offensive production, the glove will continue to be there. Kinsler is the reigning Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at second base and arguably should have won the Gold Glove over Dustin Pedroia. And, paired with Jose Iglesias, who was absent all of last year, he projects to put up even stronger numbers in categories such as double plays, assists, and put-outs.
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On offense is where Kinsler will need to excel in order to be truly considered. That is far from inconceivable, however. Kinsler will be a table-setter for what will be the most potent offense in baseball, and beyond scoring runs, he will have plenty of chances to drive in many of his own.
Realistically, he has a serious chance to win a Gold Glove, drive in 100 runs (just eight more than 2014), steal 20 bases, hit 20 HRs, and score over 100 runs.
A player with that type of impact in all facets of the game is extremely valuable.
And, truthfully, narrative has serious weight in MVP discussion, as well. The staple of a much improved defense, and the table-setter for a great offense would certainly garner well-deserved attention. Especially if he plays in 161 games again.
Naturally, Kinsler will have plenty of competition for that award if he vaults himself into that discussion, but a season such as that would go a long way in helping the Tigers clinch the AL Central for the fifth straight year. And voters love a winner.