The Detroit Tigers are not getting much love from MLB Network’s player ranker known as “The Shredder.” First, The Shredder placed Miguel Cabrera in the third spot on the list of the Best First Basemen of 2016, then it decided to put Ian Kinsler in the fourth spot on the Best Second Basemen of 2016 list. Kinsler is better than this.
The three baseball players who are ahead of Kinsler on the list include Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, and Joe Panik. He is ahead of Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia, and Dee Gordon. According to the MLB Network, The Shredder objectively evaluates players based on their previous performances using a special algorithm. What The Shredder does not do is evaluate the intangibles, like leadership, hustle, and teamwork.
Based solely on numbers, Jose Altuve is the top second baseman in the MLB. In 2015, he earned a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and All-Star spot. He also finished in the 10th spot in the MVP vote. The diminutive second baseman led the AL in hits and stolen bases, with 200 and 38 respectively. He earned a 4.2 oWAR and a 0.8 dWAR.
Cano’s 2015 season was less than stellar, but The Shredder put him in the second spot. Cano had fewer hits, a lesser batting average, and a lower WAR than Kinsler. Panik has only played in the MLB for two seasons and his 2015 WAR was also less than Kinsler’s.
Kinsler had an outstanding 2015 season and his 2014 season was certainly not disappointing. In both seasons, he delivered positive oWAR and dWAR numbers that dwarf those of his opponents. In 2014, Kinsler’s WAR was 5.7 and in 2015 it was 6.0. Panik’s numbers in 2014 were 0.2 and 2.0 in 2015. Cano earned 6.4 in 2014 and 3.4 in 2015. By WAR alone, Kinsler should be in the number one spot.
Altuve, Cano, Panik, and Kinsler batted .313, .287, .312, and .296. Based on batting average, Kinsler should be at least in the third spot on the list. And, considering that Panik only played in 100 games in 2015, he should not be anywhere the top on the list. Kinsler and Altuve each played in 154 games, while Cano played in 156. Numerically, there is a big difference in figuring batting averages in 100 games versus 150+ games.
Kinsler is one of the most important players in the Detroit Tigers dugout. Even though he has only played two complete seasons with the Tigers, he is one of the leaders of the team. He plays nearly every day and is a consistent hitter and fielder. His height allows him to jump for the high ones that come his way and his durability gives him the strength and flexibility to dive for the low ones. While he does not get as many highlight-worthy plays as his double-play partner, Jose Iglesias, he makes plays that are impressive and necessary.
Of the top four players, Kinsler did make the most errors; however, anyone who has watched Altuve has watched balls go over his head that a taller player at second base could have caught. When the balls go over Altuve’s head, those do not count as errors. Kinsler is aggressive at his base and rarely sits out any innings, so errors have more opportunity to build up.
It is clear that Altuve is the best second baseman in the MLB, but based on 2014 and 2015, Kinsler should be in the second, or at-least, the third spot. The stats for Cano and Kinsler are close during the last two years, but Kinsler has a slight edge in 2015. There is no way that Panik should be ranked above “Everyday Ian”. The Shredder got it wrong, again.