Welcome back from the DL, Ian Kinsler. Now, if it only meant a fresh start from his slumping ways …
The Texas Rangers second baseman may finally be healthy as far as his intercostal strain goes, but if you wound up watching his combined 0-for-8 over the last two games of the team’s disappointing four-game sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, you’ll see that there’s plenty of to be done as far as his work at the plate goes.
Is it maybe a little too much fretting over a tiny sample size? Maybe.
‘Rust’ or not, though, Kinsler had actually been struggling with his bat even prior to his stint on the DL, so even though he hasn’t been in the lineup since May 17, the 0-fers were really just part of the program since his traditionally-hot .919 OPS start in April.
Counting the the first two games that he played off the DL over the weekend, the 30-year old has registered just one hit over his last 20 at-bats, bringing his season numbers down to a still-good .288/.360/.476 triple slash that is nonetheless on its way down. The Rangers have seen this play out before too, as his .841/.770 first/second-half career splits are well on its way to repeating once more.
Still, there are definitely positive signs that this could be one of the more memorable years of Kinsler’s career.
For one, he’s improved his plate discipline thus far, swinging and missing fewer times (4.2 percent) than he’d done at any point in his career other than 2011 (3.1 percent). His contact rate is up to 90 percent, over his career 88.3 mark, with the other time that it’s reached 90 being — you guessed it — 2011.
In a nutshell, this is a veteran who is striking out less than ever (career-low 8.4 percent) and putting more ground balls in play that he’s ever done (43.5 percent) with better plate coverage (career-high 78.7 percent contact with outsize pitches) … which is all to say that despite a low 17.5 percent line drive rate, he is still showing signs that he is far from lost at the plate, despite the recent SSS slump.
Oh, and what’s the significance of 2011? He just had a career-best 7.2 fWAR 30-30 season, that’s all.