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February 9, 2012 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

Debate Me: Ian Kinsler or Dustin Pedroia?

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Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers 2B

This week Albert Lang and Tom Saucke square off on Kinsler vs. Pedroia:

Thomas Saucke:

Dustin Pedroia or Ian Kinsler? Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy convinced Kinsler to transfer from Central Arizona College but ended picking Pedroia to be his starting shortstop. Even though both have transitioned to second base in the Majors, I’m inclined to side with Murphy on this one from a fantasy perspective.

It’s impossible to have a discussion about these two without talking about injuries. 

Ian Kinsler’s Major League career has been riddled with them. Over the course of his six years as a professional, Kinsler has suffered the following ailments: 

2006- dislocated left thumb;

2007- foot stress fracture;

2008- sports hernia;

2009- strained hamstring;

2010- high ankle sprain and a strained left groin. The fact that he’s had issues with his groin in 2008 and 2010 is enough for me to put the “injury-prone” tag on him. 

Pedroia’s only major injury was a foot fracture in 2010 that required season ending surgery. Although serious in stature, the injury represents an anomaly rather than a recurring problem. 

Kinsler managed to stay healthy in 2011 and appeared in 155 games for the Texas Rangers, the highest total of his career. Kinsler’s average games played per season going into 2012 is 128.83.   

It’s more difficult to take a career average for Pedroia as his first season (2006) was a cameo and his season-ending foot surgery (2010) is not really on par with Kinsler’s injury terms. If we were to ignore 2006 and 2010 and draw an average, we end up with 152.25 games per season.  With the inclusion of 2010, the average is still higher than Kinsler’s (136.8). 

If you’re in the same camp as me and believe that his foot injury was an abnormality, we’re left with nearly a 24 games played gap per season. I don’t care how you want to slice and dice it; 24 games is huge.

Statistically speaking, Pedroia’s career batting average is 30 points higher than Kinsler’s (.305 to .275). If we consider the health factor in the equation, Pedroia offers you nearly an extra month’s worth of batting average stabilization. Kinsler has the edge in power and speed although the latter isn’t as significant as the former. For argument’s sake, let’s scrap 2006 and 2010 from the discussion for reasons mentioned above and compare these two on their batting average, home runs, and stolen bases:

 

Kinsler Pedroia

2007

2008

2009

2011

BA

0.263

0.319

0.253

0.255

BA

0.317

0.326

0.296

0.307

Position Rank

19

2

18

10

Position Rank

2

1

6

1

League Rank

128

8

129

102

League Rank

21

5

50

13

HR

20

18

31

32

HR

8

17

15

21

Position Rank

T-5

4

T-2

2

Position Rank

T-25

T-5

11

T-4

League Rank

T-81

T-95

T-23

T-12

League Rank

T-218

T-99

T-115

T-57

SB

23

26

31

30

SB

7

20

20

26

Position Rank

6

2

1

1

Position Rank

T-22

T-4

T-6

2

League Rank

T-31

20

T-10

T-18

League Rank

T-102

T-33

T-38

T-23

*HR and SB ranks are amongst all players; BA is amongst all qualified players

Kinsler has edged Pedroia every season in HR and SB by as little as 1 and as many as 16. Significantly, however, the batting average margin has been at LEAST 43 points in all seasons aside from 2008.    

I place a premium on batting average when constructing a team. I can make up counting stats by working the waiver wire. By this token, I could get Will Venable (yuck) on waivers for his cheap plug-and-play speed in the same way that I could get a high AB/HR player such as Nolan Reimold (20.5 AB/HR in 2011). What I can’t make up for is a poor batting average. Pedroia’s place in the top 50 for all 4 seasons detailed above is a great place to start if you’re interested in punting on someone like Mark Reynolds at 3B. A gamble of this magnitude is awfully hard to stomach if you can’t stabilize his atrocious batting average.   

Pedroia proved that he was capable of increasing his stolen base total with a screw in his foot. Additionally, even if his timing has been questionable in the past, new Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine isn’t afraid to let his players run. There’s no reason to believe that Pedroia’s SB numbers should be anywhere south of 20. Power isn’t debatable but I’ll take 30-40 points in average over 10 HR any day.

Dustin Pedroia is going to give you a quiet 20 HR/25 SB/.300 BA in 2012. Ian Kinsler, even if he’s healthy, is good for 28 HR/30 SB, and, generously-speaking, a .270 BA. The key word here, however, is health. If I’m taking one of these guys in round 2, I’d put my money on the one who doesn’t have the injury history.  Take your chances in round 6, 7, or 10; not 1 and 2.  Lay off Kinsler and, while you’re at it, don’t take Jose Reyes either.

Albert Lang:

Ian Kinsler is a better fantasy option than Dustin Pedroia

Two things first: “Go Big or Go Home,” and “Chicks Dig the Long Ball.”

Ian Kinsler is 6’0, 200 lbs; Dustin Pedroia is 5’9, 180 lbs.

Kinsler has hit 124 HRs; Pedroia has hit 75 HRs.

That is an incredibly tongue-in-cheek way of advocating for Kinsler over Pedroia.

That said, over the last three seasons, Kinsler has bested Pedroia at almost every turn:

  • Kinsler has batted .262 and averaged 98 runs, 24 HRs, 25 SBs and 69 RBIs a year.
  • Pedroia has batted .299 and averaged 90 runs, 16 HRs, 18 SBs and 68 RBIs a year.

While the above includes Pedroia’s injury plagued 2010, from 2009-2011, he has just nine fewer plate appearances than Kinsler.

Basically, in the worst of times, Kinsler is a 20-20 guy, whereas Pedroia has gone 20-20 just once, last season. And, while it was a great season, Pedroia benefitted from a few good bounces.

During Pedroia’s 20-20 season, his line drive rate was lower than normal, he hit way more ground balls and hit less fly balls. In addition, in 2011, Pedroia swung at more pitches out of the zone and swung and missed more.

In short, he made less contact and worse contact, but it didn’t show up much: his average didn’t suffer, he hit more HRs and his ISO went up. Basically, Pedroia’s HR/FB rate spiked (11.4% compared to 7.9% for his career) and he had a better BABIP (.325) than his norm (.313).We’ve probably seen Pedroia’s career year, while Kinsler consistently puts up elite power and speed numbers.

In 2012, Kinsler will bat .275, score 110 runs, hit 27 HRs, knock in 80 and steal 30 bases. Pedroia will bat .300 and top out at 18 HRs, 100 runs, 16 SBs and 70 RBIs.

You’ll happily trade .025 in batting average for nine HRs and 14 SBs.

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