Last month, Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler batted .331 and people were beginning to say that the Tigers stole him from the Texas Rangers in the Prince Fielder deal. However, through Kinsler’s first 11 games in June, the soon-to-be 32-year-old is batting just .133, which has dropped his season average to .279. The Tigers need to get him going again.
Kinsler’s struggles also coincide with the Tigers’ recent cold streak, as the team is just 3-7 in their last 10 games. Kinsler is the catalyst of the Tigers’ offense and when he is at the top of the lineup and performing well, the team seems to play well.
As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that the Tigers should make Kinsler a permanent fixture in the leadoff spot. He is slashing .307/.335/.471 when batting leadoff compared to .241/.275/.384 in the two-hole. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus likes to bat Rajai Davis leadoff against left-handed pitching, but he may be better off leaving Kinsler where he performs best and keeping Davis in the No. 9 hole — for good.
Davis is slashing .278/.328/.374 when batting leadoff versus .273./.319/.439 in the nine-hole, so there is not a substantial difference in his numbers whether he is batting first or last, but it does seem to matter where Kinsler is batting in the lineup. It should also be noted that Davis was brought in to hit lefties and he actually has a lower average against left-handed starters this season (.269) than he does against right-handed starters (.281).
The Tigers have already had to deal with enough struggling hitters this year, and worrying about Kinsler is the last thing the team needs right now. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Kinsler have been the Tigers’ three most consistent hitters this season, and they desperately need Kinsler to break out of this funk. If keeping him in the leadoff spot permanently is what it takes, then that is exactly what the Tigers should do.