StrategyJuly 2, 2011

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Buyer Beware: Ian Kinsler

By Josh Shepardson

Ranked sixth amongst second baseman in the Yahoo! game, it may be a bit of a surprise to see Ian Kinsler, a player with a track record of success, featured in Buyer Beware. Looking at his .237 BABIP on the season, one might even believe he’s a prime buy low player. But alas, that’s where the problem lies, Kinsler is a tale of two players.

Unfortunately for those thinking they can buy low on Kinsler, I’m here to suggest that what you see is what you get for the most part. Though his career BABIP is .286 and his career batting average is .276, expecting him to approach either of those marks is an error in judgement. The error in judgement comes from not recognizing the differences in batted ball data from Kinsler year-to-year. It appears that he takes two distinctly different approaches at the plate. One approach is that of roping line drives with a slight fly ball slant, the other is an extreme swing for the fences fly ball approach. Glancing at his batted ball data on his FanGraphs page bares this out pretty clearly. The years 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 featured a less fly ball centric Kinsler, while 2009 and this season see him taking to the air with greater frequency. As you’d probably expect, the years in which he’s taken a home run crazed hack he’s fared the worst in BABIP and average, as non-home run fly balls have the lowest batting average of balls in play. Thus, it would behoove fantasy owners to compare his BABIP from this season to that of 2009 as opposed to his career mark. When looking at things through that lense, it is reasonable to expect him to see an uptick in BABIP, but not to nearly the extent some may expect without digging deeper.

Those hoping to buy a player who can repeat his 2008 performance are likely to be disappointed. He’s also not likely to match his home run production of the 2009 season as he isn’t hitting as many fly balls as he did that season, and his home run-per-fly ball that season was almost a full two percent better than his career rate. Going forward, something in between, much like his 2007 season with a little less average and perhaps a bit more pop seems about right. Paying for anything more than that is unlikely to pan out.

Josh is a graduate of SUNY Cortland's Sport Management program, and an aspiring fantasy writer. You can catch up with Josh in the Cafe Forums where he posts as B-Chad. You can also follow his work at The Hardball Times and follow him on Twitter (BChad50).
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