FanPost

Brad Ausmus should reconsider batting Ian Kinsler leadoff





Koji Uehara struck out swinging, the Red Sox won the ALCS, and as predictable as the sun rising up the section of the Tigers fanbase that can be identified as the panicking baseball illiterate conglomerate of news site commenters took to the internet to find things to complain about why the Tigers lost. One particularly popular target was Tigers leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. Apart from the cries that he 'strikes out too much for a leadoff hitter,' which doesn't mean much when he gets on base at an above average clip, Jackson was not a particularly good leadoff hitter in the playoffs. He struck out 18 times in 8 games before getting bumped down the order. Thus, a very small sample size set everyone off, calling for Dave Dombrowski to find a new leadoff hitter.

Then Tigers fans rejoiced when Dave used his jedi mind tricks to acquire Ian Kinsler from the Rangers in exchange for Prince Fielder. We would no longer have to suffer from Austin Jackson getting on base a lot while striking out too much, because apparently the difference between a leadoff hitter and a guy who gets on base at an equally high clip is his plate discipline. Ian Kinsler is here to save the day! Rookie manager Brad Ausmus has already penciled Kinsler as the leadoff hitter twice in spring training. Perhaps we've once again thrown facts aside in favor of another vivid narrative that is not grounded in sound baseball statistical analysis?

Ian Kinsler vs Right Handed Pitching

Year ISO wOBA wRC+ OBP K% BB%
Career .170 .337 102 .337 12.5% 9.3%
2009 0.196 0.323 87 0.312 13.4% 9.5%
2010 0.131 0.333 99 0.353 12.6% 11.7%
2011 0.213 0.359 120 0.350 9.9% 11.6%
2012 0.152 0.294 77 0.293 13.1% 7.5%
2013 .137 0.324 98 0.331 10.1% 7.8%

While Dave Cameron makes a good point that Kinsler could be in for a rebound, it does not bode well that Kinsler has underperformed his averages, which are somewhat pedestrian to begin with, in the last five years against right handed pitching, which comprises close to 70% of the starting pitchers that the Tigers hitters will face. That's a whole lot of pitchers for a leadoff hitter to put up pedestrian numbers against. It would also be reasonable to assume that Kinsler will generally leadoff almost exclusively against right handed starters, as the temptation to bat Rajai Davis leadoff against left handed pitchers with Kinsler the lefty butcher batting behind him too much to resist. Perhaps we are jumping onto Ian Kinsler for leadoff hitter bandwagon a wee bit too soon?

I should point out, there also happens to be this guy:

Year ISO wOBA wRC+ OBP K% BB%
Career 0.137 0.341 112 0.349 23.8% 7.8%
2010 0.117 0.352 117 0.364 24.8% 6.7%
2011 0.119 0.298 82 0.308 26.8% 7.6%
2012 0.174 0.378 134 0.377 28.8% 10%
2013 0.143 0.343 114 0.345 21.4% 7%
Aside from a slight lack of power in his first to seasons, and overall utter lack of plate discipline, this guy has outperformed Kinsler against right handed hitters in the almost exact same timeframe. While batting order doesn't necessarily need to be done by the book, the leadoff spot is one of the most important spots statistically. Why not bat him leadoff against right handed pitchers? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention- that guy I listed above was Austin Jackson.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.

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