Editor's Note: This is part of a series of entries about elements of the game that the Texas Rangers hope to improve upon heading into 2013. And since it's now 2013, we call them our Rangers Resolutions.
Today's resolution: Improved hitting on the road for Ian Kinsler
In fairness, there were a number of Rangers players who could have hit the ball better on the road. As a team, the club hit .261, which was lower than what they hit on the road in 2011 (.269). They scored an average of 4.45 runs on the road, while scoring 5.51 at home.
But Kinsler, the club's leadoff hitter, never seemed to get things going on the road. He hit .220 away from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Kinsler scored 39 runs in 78 road games. At home, Kinsler hit .243 and scored 66 runs in 79 games.
The difference in road and home splits has been stark since Kinsler's career began. A look at his career numbers:
Home: .306 batting average, .389 on-base percentage, .526 slugging percentage
Road: .238 batting average, .311 on-base percentage, .396 slugging percentage
In the past four seasons, Kinsler has hit .225 on the road. It's the second-lowest average of any player with at least 1,000 at-bats on the road in that span. Only Carlos Pena has a lower average (.206).
Kinsler isn't the only player looking to reverse a rough trend on the road. Nelson Cruz has hit just .238 on the road in his big league career and hit .244 away from Arlington last season. Mitch Moreland batted .229 in 157 at-bats on the road.
But Kinsler is a spark plug for this team. He makes things happen on a regular basis at home and the club needs him to do a better job of it on the road. It's not for lack of effort. Kinsler knows he has to get better and is working on it. We'll see exactly how the lineup falls this season and where Kinsler may end up in it. Perhaps moving down in the order might help his numbers overall?
As a team, the Rangers want to play better on the road. They were 43-38 this year, which is very respectable. But it was actually one win shy of their road record in 2011. And if that one win had come in Oakland in the final three games of the season, they would have won the AL West and avoided the one-game, elimination contest against the Baltimore Orioles in the AL wild-card game.