Second baseman Ian Kinsler is having a pretty good season. He is currently batting .286/.347/.408 and his 111 wRC+ is actually better than last year’s 102 wRC+. Kinsler is also walking a lot more often; his 8.3 percent walk rate is right in line with his career rate, and much better than the 4.0 percent mark that he put up in 2014. The main anomaly about Kinsler’s 2015 season is his declining power. He currently only has five home runs and is on pace for about 10 total this year, much lower than the 17 home runs he had last season. He didn’t hit a home run until May 30 this season, his 50th game and his 221st plate appearance.
However, he is hitting for much more power of late. Since June 25, Kinsler has hit four home runs with a .612 slugging percentage. That comes out to a .243 isolated power (ISO), which would tie him with Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers if it were maintained all season long.
The reason for Kinsler's power reemergence likely comes from being more selective at the plate. Take a look at this chart.
For the last two months, Kinsler has increased him swing percentage on offspeed pitches (read: changeups) by about 20 percent, from 40 percent early on the season to 60 percent by June. This is a fairly small sample size, given the relative frequency with which pitchers use offspeed pitches. However, that's still a pretty substantial jump, and he has maintained it into July. Kinsler has also been swinging at more fastballs and fewer breaking pitches in July.
The decrease on breaking ball swing percentage is interesting. Kinsler has a very low ISO against those pitches, .071 this year and .116 in his career. His ISO is the highest against offspeed pitches at .159 this year. He also has a .137 ISO against fastballs. It is no coincidence that his power has come alive when he started to swing more often at offspeed pitches and fastballs, and less often at breaking pitches.
Last year, Kinsler had a disappointing second half, only hitting .239/.270/.357. In nine games since the All-Star break this season, he has been one of the hottest hitting Tigers, batting .395/.425/.711. This is good news for the Tigers if they plan on making a push for the playoffs as they are going to need players to step up with Miguel Cabrera currently on the disabled list.