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Ian Kinsler is not a good fit for the Cardinals - A Hunt and Peck

Note: the article below was actually written by John J. Fleming. I am stealing it. He said I could - begged me to steal it basically. The words below are all his. The Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martínez gifs were added by me. Enjoy.

On Wednesday night, seemingly out of nowhere, an opinion started to circulate on Twitter that the St. Louis Cardinals should acquire Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. While rumors about the Cardinals pursuing veteran second basemen, notably Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, circulated earlier in the off-season, this pairing came seemingly out of nowhere, particularly as it came just eleven days shy of the Cardinals’ first game of the season against the Chicago Cubs.

The rumor became so prominent that a Twitter account with over 33,000 followers, many of whom are prominent baseball media members, has already shown fans what an Ian Kinsler Cardinals uniform would look like (speaking as a Cardinals fan who came of age in the first decade of the 21st century, it seems weird to me that the Cardinals would re-issue the #5 uniform which was made so prominent by Albert Pujols, but this is hardly my territory). But surely, anybody who would go to these lengths is indicating that this rumor has legs (and in case you did not know, Ian Kinsler is not #5 for the Tigers—he must really want the pressure of wearing Pujols’s uniform number!).

On the plus side, Ian Kinsler has a long-ish track record in MLB (but not so long that he is yet washed up). In 2016, he had a 124 OPS+, the second best season of his career, and won a Gold Glove. He was worth 6.1 Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement. Over the last ten seasons, Kinsler trails only Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia (and barely Pedroia) in WAR, and in the 2010s, he trails only Cano. This decade, Kinsler trails only five position players in WAR: Mike Trout, Cano, Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto. He is a spectacular talent.

Unfortunately, while I love Kinsler as a player, recent developments make me question if he is a good fit with the culture of the Cardinals organization. On Wednesday (around the same time, perhaps coincidentally, as the Kinsler trade rumors began to circulate) came this quote from Kinsler courtesy of Billy Witz of the New York Times.

While I disagree with much of Kinsler’s sentiment, or the implication that there is one "right way" to play the game, he has a right to his opinion. And there is a certain coolness to being understated, along the lines of Pro Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, noted for nonchalantly handing the ball to a referee after scoring a touchdown. My concern is less with if Kinsler is right or wrong and more that he would be a poor cultural fit, as the St. Louis Cardinals are a team very much built around players who demonstrate emotion and energy.

How would Kinsler get along with Matt Adams?

Presumably, Kolten Wong would have to be a part of any deal for Kinsler, which would help the two avoid inevitable conflicts.

And this appears to be a long-standing cultural difference between the Cardinals and Ian Kinsler’s idealized baseball team, as Tom Lawless demonstrated.

Then, of course, there is Adam Wainwright:

But, the Cardinals are transitioning. Wainwright’s presence will shrink as Carlos Martínez’s grows...

Hmmm... that didn’t seem to help.

Judging by the vociferous fan reactions, it seems that the St. Louis Cardinals may simply be too fun and loose of an organization to accommodate even a player as talented as Ian Kinsler.

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