On the surface, it appears 2017 was a huge disappointment for Ian Kinsler coming off his renaissance 2016 campaign. However, on a per-plate-appearance basis, his power didn't drop that much. The real issue was a precipitous drop in batting average. While his overall hard hit rate was well above average, Statcast data paints a gloomier picture as Kinsler's barrel rate was well below average. Putting this together, while he may have hit into some bad luck, Kinsler did not make the type of contact conducive to base hits very often. On the plus side, he's still one of the toughest hitters in the game to fan, and even at 35 years old, he's still running, chipping in with double-digit steals. Called injury prone early in his career, Kinsler had shed the label, but only played in 139 games last season after averaging 156 over the previous three campaigns. Kinsler isn't done, but he's a batting average risk though it doesn't hurt hitting in front of Mike Trout and friends.
Kinsler went 2-for-3 with a home run and a pair of runs scored in Monday's spring win over the Reds. Kinsler has been serving as the Angels' leadoff hitter this spring, a role that he will likely fill once the games begin to count. The 35-year-old could post strong run totals hitting in front of Mike Trout and Co. after averaging 100.3 runs per season over his last four years in Detroit. Kinsler's .236 batting average in 2017 was anchored down by an abnormally-low .244 BABIP, so we could see an increase in that department to complement his 20-homer, 10-steal potential.
Kinsler could be the Angels' leadoff hitter in 2018, Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register reports. Nothing concrete has come forth to this point, but manager Mike Scioscia did fill the lineup card for Wednesday's spring game with all of the Angels' regulars and had Kinsler atop the order. The veteran's strong on-base and contact skills play well in a leadoff role, and it could be a boon to his value with the likes of Mike Trout and Justin Upton hitting behind him. This situation could change as spring training continues, but things look good for Kinsler if he can remain at the top of the Angels' revamped order.
Kinsler was traded to the Angels on Wednesday in exchange for minor leaguers Troy Montgomery and Wilkel Hernandez, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The deal is finally official after briefly being held up due to undisclosed reasons. Kinsler, who batted just .236/.313/.412 in 139 games last season, should immediately takeover as the team's starting second baseman next season. Even in what can be considered a down year for the veteran, he swatted 22 homers and will inevitably be an upgrade at the keystone for an Angels team that saw their second basemen turn in a combined .207/.274/.318 line last season. He'll likely slide into the top portion of the team's batting order and should benefit from being surrounded by the likes of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton.
Contrary to a previous report, a deal to send Kinsler to the Angels has not yet been completed, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. It's unclear what's holding the deal up at this point, but Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports there's still a good amount of optimism that Kinsler will eventually be dealt to the Angels.
Kinsler was traded to the Angels on Wednesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. The Tigers' return hasn't been announced yet, but it appears Kinsler will be heading to the west coast as the Angels continue to build up their roster. The veteran second baseman is coming off a disappointing year by his standards. While he managed to swat 22 homers, he turned in an unimpressive .236 batting average to go along with his .725 OPS, both of which were the worst marks of his career. Kinsler will look to turn things around in what will be the final year of his contract, and he should benefit from playing with the big bats of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Justin Upton. Expect him to immediately step in as the team's everyday starter at the keystone next season.