Ian Kinsler’s popularity with the Rangers’ female fans — particularly the teeny bopper crowd and under — is a well known fact around the Rangers clubhouse.
Just ask the senior member of the Rangers and the club’s all-time hits leader, Michael Young.
“He’s definitely got a stranglehold on the 10 to 14-year-old demographic,” Young said with a big smile on his face recently sitting at his locker, which is right next to Kinsler’s. “It’s good for him.”
Young actually may be selling Kinsler short, who isn’t just an All-Star at second base and the owner of a new five-year, $75 million contract. He’s also a lady killer. He’s popular with all of the Rangers’ female fans —just ask one of them.
And a lot of the Rangers’ male fans seem to pull for him too because he plays with his pants on fire, though they’ll also tell you he pops up too much.
It’s all a part of being Ian Kinsler, who always has had a laid back attitude going back to his minor league days. He takes his popularity all in stride.
“I think they can tell the way I am,” Kinsler said. “I give it everything I’ve got. I play with my emotions on my sleeve and give them something to talk about. They definitely notice if I succeed or fail.”
“But right now it is great,” Kinsler said. “As long as we win, the relationship with the fans is unbelievable. The goal is to continue to win and get the people of Arlington and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to be as passionate about the Rangers as much as possible.”
Kinsler gives the Rangers a marquee player at his position along with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano and Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, who was Kinsler’s teammate for a brief moment at Arizona State before Kinsler transferred to Missouri, where he finished up his college career and was subsequently drafted by the Rangers in the 17th round of the 2003 Entry Draft.
Kinsler, signed by scout Mike Grouse after his three-college baseball tour – he also played at Central Arizona Junior College – had a breakthrough 2004 season in the minor leagues when he had 51 doubles. He then played 120 games for the Rangers in 2006, and despite six stints on the disabled list, he has played in at least that many games for six straight seasons.
“We’ve seen him grow every year,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I remember when I first got here they were reacting to Ian like he had been here for five years. I said let him play and grow. He’s a talented kid. Each year he gets better, each year he learns something.”
The Rangers made a huge commitment to Kinsler by signing him to a contract extension four days into this season.
The negotiating process wasn’t joyful for Kinsler, who admitted that he had resolved himself to thinking a deal would not get done. He let that show with the media on Opening Day as he expressed some frustration.
The sides met for the first time on Jan. 4 or 5 and finally reached a deal on April 9. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a priority for both sides. It just took extra time.
“It’s always been a priority,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “But there’d been other things that kept coming up. I’m glad we were able to put the deal together.”
Kinsler’s new deal begins in 2013 – he is making $7 million this season – The club has an option for the 2018 season.
The deal puts Kinsler at the front and center of the core group of Rangers that will carry the franchise into the near future and beyond, including pitchers Yu Darvish and Derek Holland and outfielder Nelson Cruz, who have all signed long terms deal since the end of last season.
“Kins is a very important player,” Young said. “He works very hard. It’s nice to see hard work get rewarded. It’s a great deal for Kins and a great deal for the team that he’s going to be here for the next five years and that he’s going to have second base locked down.”
Kinsler doesn’t have to be saddled with the tag of “face of the franchise” that Young took on about the time one of his closest friends on the team broke into the league.
“The best teams have a bunch of players everyone can relate to,” Young said. “Kinsler is one of those players.”
Kinsler, like most 29-year-old players, doesn’t think much about finishing his career with the Rangers.
And why should he, Young said.
“It’s never entered my mind,” Young said. “It’s never entered Ian’s mind. He’s going to have more baseball to play when those five years are up. This isn’t something that’s going to take him to the end of his career. It’s just going to lock him up for five years. He has more baseball to play after this deal is done. Those are the things you tackle once you hit that point, but there’s no reason for him to think about it now.”
Kinsler is thankful for his new contract. He was teary eyed the night the news broke as different media members came up to ask him about the extension.
“There’s really no way to put it into words,” Kinsler said at a news conference attended by his wife, Tess, and daughter, Rian. “I’m very thankful.”
And he can always fallback on his Justin Beiber status. The question is can it continue for another decade?
“Who knows,” Young said. “The young girls love him. It’s pretty funny. It’s pretty funny to see.”