1. Ian Kinsler
While initially viewed as moving on from Prince Fielder, the move to swap the first baseman for Ian Kinsler is clearly one of the better trades in recent history for the Tigers.
Kinsler has been stellar so far in his Detroit career. He’s shown immense value in terms of hitting for contact and power, as well as being an excellent defender.
In the first two seasons in Motown, the second baseman hit .285 with a total of 165 RBI, 75 doubles, 28 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 11 triples. His WAR over the same span was an impressive 11.6.
Additionally, Kinsler has taken significant strides in Detroit to become a consistently-elite defender. The former Texas Ranger is arguably the game’s best defensive second baseman.
He also may be one of the smarter defenders as well. In Sunday’s game against the Houston Astros with the speedy Colby Rasmus on first base, Kinsler let a pop up from the comparatively slower Tyler White drop in front of him. He then flipped to second base for the force out to erase Rasmus. The move may have saved Detroit a run in a close game.
Little plays like that won’t show up in the box score, but they could make the difference in the Tigers winning a game or two.
From an offensive standpoint, Kinsler has been superb in 2016. In 11 games, he’s collected 17 hits, 11 runs scored, 10 RBI, four home runs, a double and a stolen base. Kinsler also leads all Detroit players with a 1.0 WAR so far this year.
In just a little over two years, Ian Kinsler has already become the best player at his position for the Detroit Tigers since the turn of the century. It is scary to think about the damage he could do in the coming years, because as evidenced by his start to 2016, he isn’t slowing down any time soon.