Hours before he hit two singles and a double and scored three runs in the Texas Rangers' 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday afternoon, the folks on the MLB Network were praising Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, not only for his commitment to the Rangers but also for his superior play in recent years.
So far this season, in what is albeit a really small sample size, Kinsler is having a great start and looks to be poised for a career season. He's hitting .370 with a .452 on-base percentage and is slugging .889, a rare number for a leadoff man. He's got four walks and just two strikeouts and had a key stolen base on Thursday to set up one of those three runs he scored.
The MLB Network guys compared Kinsler to Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who also signed a long-term extension this week, for a little less money than Kinsler got. Turns out, that's what he's worth relative to the Rangers' second baseman.
Aside from besting Phillips in on-base percentage and slugging percentage over the past three seasons, Kinsler has 22 net steals (stolen bases, minus caught stealings) to Phillips' 10. Phillips also grounds into more double plays and strikes out more than he walks. Kinsler's strikeout rate over the past three years has been 9.8 percent while his walk rate is 12.3 percent, which is good for 15th in all of baseball.
Where Kinsler really shines above Phillips, and most of the other second basemen in baseball, is on defense. After being horribly error-prone in the earlier stages of his career, Kinsler has grown tremendously as a second baseman.
He has a 27.3 "ultimate zone rating", compared to Phillips' 25.1, measuring the overall range defensively. The biggest difference is in "runs saved" where Phillips has 10 over that time period to Kinsler's gaudy total of 45.
If all of that isn't enough, check out this stat ESPN released Thursday: Since the start of 2011, Kinsler is now 10-for-10 stealing second base off left-handed pitchers, the most steals of any player without being caught in that span.
So there you go, there's pretty much no reason not to be ecstatic about the Rangers' new deal with Kinsler that will have him in a Rangers uniform until the latter part of this decade.