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Saturday, November 30, 2013

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: IAN KINSLER SECOND BASEMAN DETROIT TIGERS

                                                               Ian Kinsler

A little more than two weeks ago, the Hot Stove season got its legs under it with the blockbuster trade between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers that sent first baseman Prince Fielder south and second baseman Ian Kinsler north.  The trade no doubt has a sizable impact on the two players' respective fantasy baseball values for the 2014 season and more specifically when it comes to Kinsler, that change is not a positive one.  Once the absolute cream of the fantasy baseball crop with two magical 30/30 seasons at a position in second base where that level of production is almost unheard of in his past, Kinsler is now trending in the wrong direction stat-wise without even taking into account his move to a pitchers paradise.  With second base being one of the most shallow position in the game entering draft season, Kinsler is still guaranteed to find his name attached to a high draft slot.  That means in one experts humble opinion, Kinsler is in line to be a decent-sized bust candidate when all is said and done.  With that said let's dig into this opinion a little bit more so that you all can understand why I firmly believe Kinsler should be avoided in drafts this winter.

First let's go back to Kinsler's second 30/30 season which came in 2011 when he slugged 32 home runs and stole 30 bases while hitting .255.  As I mentioned earlier those are terrific numbers, especially so for a second baseman which can be an offensive sinkhole at times.  However reaching that extreme level of production placed Kinsler squarely into late first round/second round territory and rightfully so.  In the subsequent two seasons however, there has been a noticeable trend going the other way, with some of the numbers starkly going southward.  Let's take a closer look at Kinsler's 2012 and 2013 numbers in order to see for yourself.

2012:  19 HR 21 SB .256
2013:  13 HR 15 SB .277

Now granted Kinsler saw 100 less at-bats last season than the year prior due to a DL stint but still the obvious argument is that erosion is clearly taking place in his overall stat ratios.  Asking Kinsler to repeat 30/30 is obviously tough for anyone to do but Kinsler has not even reached 20/20 the last two seasons.  Looking under the hood, Kinsler's home run rate and fly ball rate have sunk and in addition his stolen base attempts are dropping as well.  Now turning 32-year-old this season, the historical trend with speedy players is that they begin to lose some of their burst when they reach 30 which seems to coincide with the drop in steals we have seen from Kinsler lately.  So looking for Kinsler to reach 30 stolen bases again is a pipedream as he continues to age.

Staying with the aging theme, there is always an increased risk of injury for players who start getting up there in age and we saw some of that in Kinsler with his DL stint in 2013.  No one needs of a reminder of how injury-prone Kinsler was earlier in his career before he finally managed to stay in one piece for the duration of the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  The DL stint last season could be an omen of more injury issues to come which would shock no one who has ever owned the guy.

Last but not least, we have the giant contrast in ballparks that Kinsler will soon find out this season.  The trade moves Kinsler from quite possibly the best hitting park in baseball in Texas to one of the worst in Detroit.  That alone will likely take away 3-5 home runs along with 7-14 RBI's right off the bat.  One only has to look at how Fielder never came close to hitting the 40 home runs (and even 50) he hit in Milwaukee during his two season stay in Comerica Park.  Obviously you can forget 30 home runs and 20 also seems like a vast longshot. 

Putting everything together, there are a whole slew of negative red flags going off around Kinsler as 2014 fantasy baseball gets set to launch.  You always want to reserve your early round picks for guys who present as little risk as possible and who don't have numbers going in the negative direction.  Kinsler is a negative on both fronts and so that alone has him as a clear bust threat you need to do your best to try and avoid this season.

2014 PROJECTION:  .262 15 HR 91 55 RBI 19 SB

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