Prior to this season, Ian Kinsler has either hit for power or had a high batting average. This year he’s doing both. A career .277 hitter who has hit 18 home runs annually, the 34-year-old Detroit second baseman is slashing .288/.341/.490 and has 20 long balls.
Is he a better hitter now than at any point in his career?
“Probably,” Kinsler told me. “The game slows down more with the experience you get. You settle into the type of player you want to be, and the type of player you can be.”
A few days before my conversation with Kinsler, I talked to Twins second basemanBrian Dozier about his own evolution and self identity. (We’ll hear from Dozier in detail in the coming week.) When I told Kinsler that Dozier feels extra-base power makes him more valuable than a higher batting average, he shied away from approach-related assessments.
“I’m not worried so much about that, man,” said Kinsler. “That’s probably a little too much in depth for me. I just want to score runs and hit the ball hard. I try to hit the ball on the barrel, and if you can do that, most of the time something good is going to happen.”
Kinsler — a Texas Ranger prior to coming to Detroit three years ago — does own up to having made some adjustments. His swing has “flattened out a little” since his high power, low average seasons (2009 and 2011). He’s also more pleased with his overall approach. The way he sees it, “Sometimes you have to take a couple steps back to be more of a complete hitter. Then, once you get comfortable with the changes you made, you can start adding more power.”
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