Time to play Fact or Fiction: The Ian Kinsler Edition.
Kinsler said that he didn’t feel he should have to lead young players during his final year with the Texas Rangers. Fact.
Kinsler said the leadership duties expected of him bogged him down. Fact.
Kinsler didn’t exhibit any leadership of young players in 2013. Fiction.
Kinsler hates Jurickson Profar, the top prospect who was one of those young players. Fiction.
Kinsler hasn’t been a leader of players young and old in Detroit. Fiction.
Kinsler forever created a misconception about being a team player with the Rangers, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Fact.
A defense of Kinsler and his leadership skills isn’t easy, especially with some believing a smoking gun popped out of his mouth 18 months ago in an ESPN The Magazine story. Yes, the Jon-Daniels-is-a-sleazeball, hope-the-Rangers-go-0-162 story.
Evidence to the contrary, though, about Kinsler’s leadership qualities is mounting at Comerica Park and had mounted at Globe Life Park.
As Tigers ownership and management hemmed and hawed last month between selling or standing pat at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, Kinsler stepped out and told them not to trade away David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria.
When Price, Cespedes and Soria were dealt away, essentially leaving the Tigers for dead, Kinsler is the player who stepped out and said not to give up on the season, which is six months long and not four.
Entering Friday, Kinsler had posted a .413/.432/.640 slash line in the first 18 games since the fire sale. Hello.
The Tigers were 9-9, treading water in seven series, six of them against playoff contenders. They were 3 1/2 games out of the second wild card, the same deficit they faced July 31 as Price, Cespedes and their playoff hopes were shipped away.
The problem is that four teams were ahead of them, including the Rangers, and as much as some of those teams have been cooperating with the Tigers’ cause by playing as evenly or worse than them, it’s still a tall task for Detroit to make the postseason.
That’s a fact.
And, though many believe otherwise, it’s a fact that Kinsler helped lead young players during his time with the Rangers, including the final season. Just ask the young players over the years.
The list includes shortstop Elvis Andrus, who leaned more on Michael Young but still sought guidance and received it from Kinsler, and first baseman Mitch Moreland. Profar, whose presence gave the Rangers confidence to trade Kinsler for Prince Fielder, is also on the list.
Kinsler just might not have led the way the Rangers wanted and to the level they had hoped after trading Young.
But the Rangers had Adrian Beltre, as revered as anyone, in the clubhouse, and Joe Nathan was a leader of the pitching staff. Some of the leadership A.J Pierzynski offered might have rubbed some the wrong way, as it did Yu Darvish, but he had admirable leadership qualities as well.
Remember this: During the epic, leaked Ron Washington speech before Game 7 of the World Series, Kinsler speaks up only after Young when players are given the floor.
Leadership comes with being a veteran and wanting to win, and no one can doubt that Kinsler didn’t want to win with the Rangers. If he saw something a young player could do better on the field to help the Rangers win, he pointed it out.
He wanted his teammates to play the game the right way.
That hasn’t been any different with the Tigers, and a few of their players were surprised by the notion that Kinsler was the selfish player that some in Texas, and even his own comments, have cast him to be.
(Isn’t it interesting that Fielder, who left Detroit perceived by fans and media as an uncaring player, and Kinsler, who is perceived the same way in Texas, are now considered team leaders? Imagine that.)
The Kinsler comments added to an already negative narrative about him. There was the body language after an out on the bases or an error, or one of many pop-ups.
Kinsler knows how he has been perceived by some Rangers fans and some in the media covering his former team. His ex-teammates said his comments about Daniels and leadership were just a brain freeze or said out of frustration after being traded by the team that drafted him and signed him to an extension that he hoped would enable him to finish his career there.
That didn’t even happen to his pal Young, the franchise’s all-time leader in hits and games and almost everything else. He moved on after he was traded to Philadelphia.
Kinsler has moved on, too, to a place where there is no doubt that he is a leader. He led while with the Rangers, too, despite what has been written and said, and despite what even he said.
Cardinals: Can be better if injured stars get healthy, hot in September.
Royals: Staying sharp despite leading AL Central by 12 1/2 games.
Pirates: Better than NL West, East leaders, but looking at wild-card game.
Cubs: TCU ex Jake Arrieta, not Jon Lester, has been team’s best pitcher.
Blue Jays: Yankees have AL East lead, but Toronto will overtake them.
Rockies: Plunging almost as badly as the stock market last week.
Phillies: Jerad Eickhoff, in the Cole Hamels package, with a sharp debut.
Marlins: Playing decently, which is ruining all of Owner Loria’s schemes.
Reds: Triple A manager is Delino DeShields Sr. Next up in Cincy?
A’s: Back at the bottom of the AL, with another makeover looming.