Welcome Back Kinsler

Kinsles
“Yeah, we teased him a lot
‘Cause we got him on the spot
Welcome back…”
– Theme from “Welcome Back, Kotter”

#IKPU

Perhaps no single hashtag was posted to Twitter more often during Ranger games last season.  For the few of you who may be unfamiliar with its meaning, that hashtag is an acronym for Ian Kinsler Pop-Up, which seemed to be how far too many of his at-bats ended in 2012.  The only other hashtag possibly seen as often was #PADMY(which is not a misspelled reference to the gorgeous co-host of TV’s “Top Chef,” but stands for Past A Diving Michael Young, which is self-explanatory and now appears exclusively on the timelines of Philly fans).

Though he technically never really went away, the Kinsler that Ranger fans have known and loved since he joined the big club back in 2006 seemed to be M.I.A. throughout most of last season – and I don’t mean he was singing “Paper Planes” in the clubhouse.  A look at the numbers reveal his typical levels of production were absent in 2012:

  • The .256/.326/.423 slash line he posted in 2012 was uncharacteristically anemic for Kinsler, with the BA being the third-lowest of his career (18 points below his career average), the OBP being the worst of his career (26 points below his career average), and the SLG being the second-lowest of his career (a whopping 41 points below his career average).
  • Despite playing in more games, having more at-bats and more plate appearances in 2012 than 2011, Kinsler managed to hit 13 fewer home runs, five fewer RBI, and stole nine fewer bases (while getting caught stealing five MORE times).  He also struck out a career-high 90 times (25 more than his career average).
  • Perhaps most damning (especially in the eyes of sabermetricians), is that Kinsler’s WAR plummeted from a career-high 7.0 in 2011 to a paltry 2.1 for 2012 (barely half of his career seasonal average).
    • Defensively, Kinsler tied his career-high in errors (18, which was fourth-most in the American League) and also tied his career-low in fielding percentage (..970).

Fortunately, Kinsler seems to have returned to his pre-2012 form so far this season.  His slash line after 34 games (yes, I know, #SSSSmall Sample Size) is an impressive .326/.387/.546, with seven HR (on pace for 34 for the season) and 20 RBI (on pace for 96).  He’s only been caught stealing once so far in four attempts, and he’s only struck out 12 times (on pace for just 58).  His WAR of 2.3 has already exceeded what he posted last season.

Most importantly, there has been a significant decrease in the frequency of the #IKPU hashtag.  Welcome back, Kinsler!

Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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