Ask 10 Rangers fans about Ian Kinsler, who retired last week after a decade-plus in Major League Baseball, and you'll get 10 different answers. Most of them will be bad, something about his lack of hustle maybe or his propensity for popping up. Eventually, someone will bring up his comments after the Rangers traded him for Prince Fielder before the 2014 season, when Kinsler said he hoped the Rangers would lose every game the following season.
Six years after that deal, Kinsler remains as unfairly maligned as he was during his time with the Rangers, remembered through the lens of a local media he never really got along with and his teams' failure to deliver North Texas' first World Series championship.
Facts are facts, though. By any statistical measure, Kinsler is one of the Rangers' best-ever position players. His best seasons by wins above replacement are comparable to the tier of players that includes Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Josh Hamilton, and significantly better than his more fondly remembered contemporary, Michael Young. The only Ranger with consistently higher highs than Kinsler is Alex Rodriguez, who's remembered poorly for different reasons.
Kinsler's a borderline case for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he should be a shoo-in for the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. In honor of the Rangers' greatest No. 5, here are five of the best moments from his career:
1. The skip: In 2010, the Rangers returned to the playoffs after more than a decade in the wilderness. After taking a 2-0 American League Division Series lead against the Rays in Florida, they coughed up Games 3 and 4 in Arlington, setting up a winner-take-all Game 5 at Tropicana Field.
After eight hard-fought innings, the Rangers led 3-1 and were on the verge of their first-ever playoff series victory. Nelson Cruz led off the ninth with a single against Rays closer Rafael Soriano, before Kinsler delivered a series-clinching two-run home run. His skip on the way out of the batter's box was cathartic. 2. The stolen base: After losing Game 1 in St. Louis, the Rangers trailed the Cardinals 1-0 through eight innings of the 2011 World Series. Kinsler led off the Rangers' ninth with a single, before stealing second base with a perfectly timed jump — no easy feat against Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina's arm.
Kinsler scored the game's tying run later in the inning, and the Rangers won 2-1, evening the series. We won't talk about the rest of the series. 3. The 6-for-6 cycle: Kinsler had six at-bats during the Rangers' April 15, 2009, victory over the Orioles. He recorded two singles, two doubles, a triple and a home run. A meaningless game made magical. 4. The 30/30s: Three times in Rangers history, one of the team's hitters has hit 30 home runs and stolen 30 bases in the same season. Kinsler did it in 2009 and 2011, showcasing the power and speed that made him unique. 5. The ring: He didn't get there with the Rangers, but Kinsler ascended the mountaintop in 2018, winning the World Series as a member of the Boston Red Sox.
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