The Baseball Writer You Should Be Reading Is Christina Kahrl

The baseball season is upon us. Spring training is in full swing in Florida and Arizona. As per Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, in exchange for multi-million dollar salaries for playing a sportsball, baseball players must spend six weeks a year in one of the union’s worst two states.

If you are a baseball fan, this is an exciting time. This is your opportunity to check out the new can’t-miss prospects, prepare for your rotisserie draft, fantasize about a pennant run before the 162-game season’s slog shatters your hopes, and basically daydream about how it will be June eventually.

If you are a baseball fan who isn’t lame, then (like Magnum, PI) you are closely following the Detroit Tigers spring training camp in Lakeland, Florida. The Tigers are scientifically proven to be the best baseball team to root for. The Tigers have a higher Magnum PIs Above Replacement Team rating than anyone else. MPIAR is an indisputable and not-at-all just made up sabermetric stat.

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Tiger fans are probably reading about how leftfielder Andy Dirks will be out for three months with a back injury or that Rick Porcello gave up three runs in the third inning Tuesday against Pittsburgh.

“I know in the second inning I fell behind some guys, and the third inning. Fastball feels real good, breaking ball feels pretty good. Changeup’s a little flat right now, today especially, but other than that, it felt pretty good,” Porcello told reporters after the game just before saying (probably) that he plans to take it one game at a time.

Also, Tiger fans are up to their eyeballs in crap about how second baseman Ian Kinsler didn’t like his GM when he played for the Texas Rangers—a story that proves athletes shouldn’t ever deviate from Crash Davis’s clichés when talking to writers.

Here’s the thing: Kinsler’s relationship with the Rangers’ General Manager is apropos of nothing. It tells Tiger fans nothing about how he is or will hit and field in the Old English D. Even as gossip for bros, this isn’t Brett Farve’s dick pics material.

The Ian Kinsler hates his old boss story is everything that’s wrong with sports writing. It’s a fairly dull story — athlete doesn’t like guy who traded him — that’s punched up with a couple colorful quotes so that writers go ape-shit over it.

Rather than reading the ink-stained wretches or watching pancake-make-up’ed talking heads drone on about Kinsler feels, baseball fans should be reading Christina Kahrl drop some truth bombs about what Tiger fans can expect from their new second baseman.

Which is really where my focus is when I wonder what Kinsler will do in 2014. I’m still one of the people who looks at a guy who has left the ballpark that made him the 30-homer masher in his prime, a ballpark where he slugged .511, as opposed to the guy who has slugged .399 everywhere else in his career. A guy who turns 32 in June. A guy whose Isolated Power has dropped from .223 in his age-29 season — the tail end of a normal player’s peak — to .136 last year. His career lows for walk rate? They’ve both come in the past two years, having dropped down toward 8 percent, where it used to be up around 12.

So that’s a guy who has lost 100 points of slugging across three years while calling one of the game’s great hitters’ nirvanas home, and he’s lost a third of his walk rate. Skip hating on change of venues, that’s a pretty clear indication of a decline. If you’re a Tigers fan, you should be worried about Kinsler.

The enlarged prostates stuffed into spring training press boxes and hotel bars should take notice: This is what sportswriting is supposed to look like. Someone reads that and has an idea about Kinsler’s value to his team in the upcoming season.

Yet media outlets continue to pay the combovers to chase the same locker room clichés and scribble columns about how they can’t tell the difference between OPS and PMS.

And that’s a lesson, kids, ignore the other jerks in the press box if you want to be a sportsball writer. Be like Christina Kahrl instead and, the good Lord willing, things will work out.

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  • actor212

    Wow, Jeff, I’m a baseball stat nerd from way back when Bill James hadn’t even stopped shaving yet, and my eyes still glazed over!

  • Enfant Terrible

    What’s depressing about this is that sports journalists have higher standards than political journalists.