Today we see Ian Kinsler on card number 175 of the 2008 Upper Deck Baseball Heroes set. After Ian had lost to Dustin Pedroia and Brandon Inge in the fan voting it appeared that Kinsler's chances to take part in yesterday's game were dead. Then Dustin Pedroia withdrew from the game to be with his wife during a difficult pregnancy. A wise decision by Pedroia. Immediately speculation began that American League manager Joe Maddon would choose Kinsler to replace Pedroia. He did not, he chose his own first baseman, Carlos Pena. Was Pena a better choice than Kinsler? Let's take a look.
Up to this point in the season Carlos Pena has appeared in 88 games, played 758.2 innings, and appeared at the plate 379 times. Ian Kinsler has made 85 games, played 756 innings, and appeared in the batter's box 395 times. The three additional games might give Pena a slight advantage in durability but that is probably balanced by Kinsler's 16 additional plate appearances.
On offense Pena spends most of his time in the number four slot. He leads Kinsler in on base percentage .364 to .327. He has more walks, 60 to 39. He also has four more homers at 24 and three more RBI at 58. Both players have scored 62 runs and have 19 doubles. Pena is the only player that he lost out to that Kinsler leads in average, .250 to .228. He also has 61 fewer strikeouts than Pena's 111 and one more triple. Ian has swiped 17 more bases than Pena (18-1) and has only been caught one time more (2-1). It seems that Kinsler leads in average and speed while Pena has the pole as far as power and patience at the plate. Looks like an overall tie.
Once again, defense is hard to compare since the two players man different positions. Kinsler has six errors on the season while Pena has eight. Depending on your view of the difficulty of playing second as compared to first, this might be of importance. Pena does beat Kinsler in fielding percentage with a .989 average as compared to Kinsler's .987. Pretty close though. Looks like another tie.
So, should Maddon have taken Kinsler instead of Pena? Well, it depends on what kind of game he was planning on playing. Over all the two players are comparable and it makes sense for Maddon to take the one he was familiar with. As much as I hate to see Ian left out, I can't blame Joe Maddon for this one.