It didn’t take long for Ian Kinsler to win over the Detroit Tigers‘ fanbase. He had the team’s second walk-off hit against the Kansas City Royals in as many games this season and provided the only offense for the Tigers in the extra-innings win. He’s having an instant impact, and he should be a more consistent lead-off option than they’ve had in the recent past with Austin Jackson at the top of the order.
Kinsler hit a home run in his second at-bat of the game and had three of the Tigers’ six hits. The Royals sent Jason Vargas to the mound, who was an under-the-radar acquisition this past offseason.
Kinsler has a familiarity with Vargas from when they were both in the AL West as members of the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Vargas handled the majority of the Tigers’ lineup Wednesday, but struggled with Kinsler. He had much more experience than any of the other Tigers and it showed. This will be a key matchup this season, as the Tigers will likely face Vargas a few more times.
Kinsler has been steady in the field as well. He turned a couple key double-plays which helped Max Scherzer get out of early jams. He should be an upgrade defensively over Omar Infante, and makes them better at one of the most important positions in the batting order as well.
If Kinsler is able to get on base at the rate he has over the past few seasons, he should have no trouble eclipsing 100 runs scored this season in the Tigers’ offense. He has averaged 103 runs scored each year since 2010 despite spending time lower in the Rangers’ batting order. The Tigers needed someone they could trust at the top of the order, and it appears they have that in Kinsler.