When the Detroit Tigers sent Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler, they initially created a major hole at their first base position. They were able to fix that problem by simply sliding Miguel Cabrera over to first, and thus creating the best first base-second base duo in baseball.
Even though Omar Infante had a pretty good season for Detroit last year, Tiger fans should not miss him too much once Spring Training games start next week as there is almost no doubt that Kinsler will be a huge upgrade at the position.
First off, Infante’s solid season for the Tigers can be greatly attributed to the fact that it was a contract year for him. He was going to be hitting free agency and wanted to create the best opportunity for him to score a huge contract, and was able to do just that as his demand for a four-year deal was met when he signed with divisional foe, the Kansas City Royals.
The only statistic of Infante’s that was clearly better than Kinsler’s last year was his batting average, but this number could be seen as skewed because it was during the last year of his contract. Infante’s .318 batting average was the second-highest of his career, and was only the third time that he hit above .300 during his 12 years in MLB. His career batting average is only .279, and it is not hard to believe that his production in 2014 will drop off to around that level.
Kinsler, on the other hand brings more power, speed and better defense to the position. He has twice made the 30-30 club while Infante has never hit more than 16 homers or stolen more than 17 bases in a season. In fact, Kinsler and Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds are the only second basemen who have hit over 150 home runs and have stolen over 150 bases since 2006.
Kinsler has also averaged 31 doubles a season during his career, while Infante averages 16.5 doubles per season.
It will be interesting to see if Kinsler can carry over that kind of success to his new team in 2014, but if he plays similarly to when he was in Texas, then Tiger fans should always roar loudly in approval when they see him at second base.