Ian Kinsler, the Detroit Tigers‘ newly-acquired second baseman, is a lifetime .273 hitter who has only batted over .300 once in his career, which was all the way back in 2008 when he batted .319 in 121 games. However, he has a real chance to hit over .300 for the second time in his career in 2014.
Last season, while playing for the Texas Rangers, Kinsler began hitting for more average and less power than he usually does, which perhaps signals that he is on the verge of entering into a new phase of his career. Kinsler, a player who has hit more than 30 home runs twice in his career, hit just 13 long balls in 2013, but he batted a healthy .277, which was an improvement over the .256 he hit in 2012 and the .255 he hit in 2011.
It is worth noting, however, that Kinsler did play in fewer games in 2013 than he did in 2012 and 2011 and therefore received fewer at-bats.
Interestingly enough, Kinsler’s new teammate, Torii Hunter, has also begun hitting for more average and less power as his career has progressed. However, Hunter has made the transition much later in his career than Kinsler. Hunter had never batted over .300 prior to 2012, and he has now done it in back-to-back years in his age-36 and age-37 seasons.
Perhaps Hunter can teach his new teammate a thing or two about making the transition from a power hitter to a player who hits for more average.
Moreover, Comerica Park is a very big yard, and very few guys other than Miguel Cabrera can make it look small. Just ask Prince Fielder, the man whom Kinsler was traded for, how big of a bite Comerica Park can take out of a player’s power numbers.
Kinsler, who is universally regarded as a very smart player, is not likely to be swinging for the fences next season as he is going to realize that Comerica Park is not Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Alternatively, he will most likely be looking to drive the ball through the gaps.
Furthermore, Kinsler still possesses above-average speed, and we can expect him to leg a few out here and there and bunt for the occasional base hit, which will help raise his average as well.
Kinsler is slated to bat either first or second for the Tigers in 2014. If he bats second and Miguel Cabrera remains in the three hole where he has been since 2012, Kinsler is going to find himself in one of the most enviable positions in all of baseball. He is also going to be in a great position to get a lot of hits if he happens to bat leadoff and has Hunter, Cabrera, and Victor Martinez batting behind him.
Although no such announcement has been made, some fans have speculated that Austin Jackson will be batting much lower in the Tigers’ lineup next season after being the Tigers’ leadoff man since 2010.
While Kinsler is not known for hitting for average, he has always been a pretty tough player to strike out. He is one of those rare birds who has never once struck out 100 or more times in a season. A lot can happen when you simply make contact and put the ball in play, especially when you are playing in spacious Comerica Park.
Lastly, Kinsler can also be expected to play with a bit of an attitude in 2014. He was traded away from the only organization he had ever played for at the professional level, and he will be looking to prove to the Rangers and the rest of MLB that he is still one of the premier second basemen in the game. Don’t be surprised if he goes out and hits .300 next season.