As I write this the All-Star Home Run Derby is in progress. The players taking part in the game tomorrow are in St. Louis for the festivities. One player who was at the game last year but isn't this year is Ian Kinsler, seen here on card number 341 of the 2005 Topps Heritage set.
Ian led American League second basemen in fan voting until the last few hours and then lost to Dustin Pedroia in a late surge. He then finished second to Brandon Inge in the final roster spot voting. Pedroia bowed out and it was assumed that Kinsler would replace him. Instead Joe Maddon picked Carlos Pena to finish out the A.L. roster. All this made me want to see just how Ian compared to the guys who are going to the game instead of him.
Here is what I found for Dustin Pedroia v. Ian Kinsler so far in 2009. Kinsler has played in 85 games while Pedroia has kept pace with 84. In those games Kinsler has gone 756 innings while Pedroia has managed 745.1. Perhaps a slight edge in durability for Kinsler. Not enough to sway the decision though.
On offense Dustin seems to easily beat Ian. Pedroia has 393 plate appearances while Kinsler has 395, no significant difference. Pedroia pulls away in average at .303 while Kinsler checks in at .250. Dustin's on base percentage is .378 as compared to .327 for Kinsler. Kinsler has also struck out 50 times compared to 27 for Pedroia while Dustin has knocked 105 hits as compared to 87 for Ian. Clear advantage Pedroia in those four categories for Pedroia. Runs scored appear to be a wash with Ian scoring 62 and Dustin crossing the plate 65 times. Pedroia holds a clear lead in doubles 30-19. Triples are practically the same, two for Kinsler and one for Dustin. Ian is way out ahead in homers, 20-4 and leads in RBI as well, 55-40. He also has 18 stolen bases and has only been caught twice. Pedroia has 14 swipes with 5 arrests. Kinsler has avoided all but five double plays while Pedroia has grounded into 13. A point perhaps worth considering is that Kinsler spends most of his plate time leading off while Pedroia hits in the number two slot. All things considered, Dustin Pedroia seems to have the advantage in average and on base while Kinsler comes out ahead in power and speed. Seems reasonable to give Pedroia the nod on offense though.
On defense things might be different. Kinsler has 6 errors to Pedroia's 5 and a .987 fielding percentage to Pedroia's .986. Pretty close to identical. In range factor though, things change. Per nine innings Kinsler ranks at 5.32 compared to 4.26 for Pedroia. Per game the numbers run 5.26 and 4.20 respectively. Kinsler has turned 66 double plays as compared to Pedroia's 46. Advantage to Kinsler on defense.
So, what is the conclusion. Well, depending on what side to the plate you are standing on it is reasonable that Pedroia would beat Kinsler. He has the edge in defense and the durability is a wash. On defense Kinsler ranks but that isn't as attractive to fans as the bat. Of course, Kinsler has 16 more homers than Pedroia and chicks dig the longball. Perhaps the most important digit isn't even a number. When it comes to helmets and caps, Pedroia wears a "B" on the front of his as compared to Kinsler's "T". That may be the biggest difference.