While others have been grabbing the headlines, one of the more underrated players in baseball is quietly going about his business. And business has been good for Rangers All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler started off with a bang, becoming the first player in Major League history to hit lead-off home runs in the first two games of a season. After 11 games, Kinsler has four home runs, good enough to be tied for second in the American League (teammate Nelson Cruz leads the league with five home runs).
Kinsler provides the Rangers with many options at the leadoff spot due to his speed and power. And because of this pitchers have to approach him more carefully than most leadoff hitters in the AL. Very few at the top spot can set the table like Kinsler does, and pitching around him isn’t much of an option due to the power throughout the Rangers lineup. In the field, the former Rookie of the Year is as steady as they come. Kinsler is always among the top in the league in assists and putouts.
The bulldog mentality that Kinsler shows today didn’t happen overnight. After being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Kinsler decided college was the best path. He played shortstop at Central Arizona College before transferring to Arizona State. Kinsler started briefly alongside future Boston Red Sox All-Star Dustin Pedroia, but soon found himself on the bench.
Kinsler then transferred to Missouri, where he played on their 2002 College World Series team. Soon after, he was drafted by the Rangers. Kinsler made the move from shortstop to second base, and a couple of years later found himself anchoring the infield in Arlington.
There is no doubt that Kinsler sets the tone for the Rangers. If he continues to play at this pace, you can expect to see Kinsler’s name in more headlines as the season goes along.