I don’t buy this at all as the reason why Kinsler is performing badly.
What people have totally overlooked is the physical and mental grind that the Rangers have gone through going to two straight playoffs. You’re talking about two grueling seasons that lasted seven months, and the effects are being felt this season by a number of players.
This might be the case for some guys, but Kinsler has been playing like this all season and some of last season. A friend of mine and I started noting last season that Kinsler was “dogging” it on ground balls. There were times that guys with not near as much speed were making plays closer at first than Kinsler was. He would hit a grounder to deep short and get thrown out by a good five steps, while someone like Beltre was getting beat by a half step. In fact, in developing the idea for this blog, we discussed creating an “award” to give out after every game called “The Kinsler Loaf of the Game” for the player who showed a lack of effort or hustle during some part of the game. It’s been that evident.
He carried that over into this season, but not only that, he started loafing in the field too. You tie that in with his undisciplined base running, and you get a picture of a player who just doesn’t have his head in the game.
Kinsler hit .255 last year. That is an awful average for a lead off man. But, as Tom Grieve tried to point out on numerous occasions (since he just can’t find it in himself to criticize Ian), his on base percentage was .355. He walked 89 times, stole 30 bases and hit 32 homeruns. This year his average is higher: .263. That’s still not good for a lead off hitter, but everything else is worse. He’s hit only half the homeruns he hit last year, and only walked 51 times. There’s no way he will match his walk total from last season. He already has 9 more strikeouts this season than last. He only has 21 stolen bases. His on base percentage is considerably lower, as is his slugging percentage and OPS.
One might look at this and say it’s clear that he’s just wearing out after two long/extended seasons. That’s what T.R. Sullivan is concluding. But, this started towards the end of last season and was carried over through the beginning of this season, when he should have been rested. And, finally, fatigue can hit your batting average, your power at the plate, and so on, but it can’t take your heart and drive. Kinsler hasn’t shown either in over a season of baseball, and frankly, there’s no excuse for that.