As with my recent Nomar Mazara article, this blog is besides the point. But since we’re here, I might as well tell you that my favorite baseball player of all-time, Ian Kinsler, retired.
I don’t have a lot to say about him other than I loved watching him play. I loved that he reminded me of myself; he wore his socks high, played second base, and wore number 5. He never hit for an especially high average, but he did hit a decent amount of homers and drew his fair share of walks. In many ways he was an advanced metrics-friendly ballplayer before it became popular.
Kinsler played 14 seasons and accumulated +47.7 fWAR over that span, an average of +3.4 fWAR per season. In modern day dollars he would be worth roughly $20 million annually; as it stands he earned $106 million in his career, which isn’t at all shabby.
I was on vacation with my family in 2006 when he recorded his first Major League hit, a single to right-center off Boston Red Sox starter Curt Schilling. He would end up getting 1,999 career hits, including 257 HRs, 41 3Bs and 416 2Bs — a somewhat remarkable 714 extra base knocks (35.7% of his lifetime hits went for more than one base). That’s extraordinary for a second baseman.
He was something of a dirtbag on the field. He played above-average defense, was a well above-average baserunner, and seemed to possess the “clutch” gene that so many of my ilk deny as being a real thing. In the two years the Rangers made the World Series — 2010 and 2011 — Kinsler batted an absurd .333/.417/.638 with 4 HRs, 1 3B and 4 2Bs. He was always a difficult out when it counted the most.
Kinsler will not be remembered fondly among a certain sect of Rangers fans, but that will never diminish the production he offered on the field. Some fans got bent out of shape that he didn’t hustle all the time, or that he hit too many popups, but the fact is he performed at the level of a Hall of Fame player for the better part of his career.
I loved this dude, and it broke my heart when the Rangers traded him in 2013 to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder. In that blog I wrote:
My one regret with Ian is that he never got to win a World Series ring with the Rangers. For a guy who could do everything else on a baseball diamond, I hope since he didn’t get it here, he gets it somewhere.
In 2018, Kinsler won a ring with the Boston Red Sox. Obviously I wanted him to do it in Texas, but since it didn’t happen with my favorite baseball team I’m glad it happened somewhere. The Texas Rangers arguably had the best team(s) in baseball in 2010 and ’11, and it would have made sense if he got his ring(s) then and there. He had to wait another five years, but it did happen.
It’s kind of crazy, but I am now old enough (29) to literally see entire careers of baseball players. Ian Kinsler just happens to be my favorite player of all-time. I got to enjoy eight seasons of him playing in Texas, where he gave me numerous pleasant memories. I’m always going to love Kins, who was legitimately my first favorite baseball player. I got to see everything he did, from his time with the Rangers to his years in Detroit, before finally getting his World Series ring with the Red Sox and closing his career out with the Padres.
It’s been real, my man. Thank you for being cool as fuck for 14 years.