Huge news on the international baseball front today, as four-time MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler has signed on to manage Team Israel in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Israel has been a rising star on the world’s stage over the past half-decade, ever since the team’s Cinderella run during the 2017 event.
Now 40 years old, Kinsler was an elite player at the MLB level for well over a decade. He debuted in 2006 with the Texas Rangers and immediately became their starting second baseman for the next eight years. During his time in Arlington, Kinsler racked up three All-Star nods and two 30-30 seasons, cementing himself as one of the best power-speed threats in the game. Ultimately, he posted a .273/.349/.454 slash line across 4,791 plate appearances with the Rangers.
A trade during the 2013-14 offseason saw Kinsler move to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for slugger Prince Fielder, and he continued his excellent play in the Motor City. Kinsler slashed .275/.328/.436 over 2,693 trips to the plate for the Tigers, earning another All-Star berth and two Gold Gloves along the way.
In 2018 he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels, who then flipped him to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline. He earned himself a World Series ring during his stint in Boston, and signed with the San Diego Padres ahead of the 2019 season. After struggling to stay healthy with the Friars and only suiting up for 87 games, Kinsler called it a career at the age of 37. Overall, the Arizona State product bashed 257 homers and swiped 243 bags in his career, going down as one of the best second baseman of his era.
After retiring from Major League Baseball, Kinsler, who is Jewish, represented Israel at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Israel would fall short of a medal in the event, but it was nevertheless a huge step for a fledgling baseball program. Now, Israel has its sights set on winning it all in next year’s World Baseball Classic.
Kinsler will get his first taste of managerial experience with Team Israel, and should bring a veteran presence to the club. If the program has its way, we could see some elite players suit up in blue and white. Jewish stars Max Fried, Joc Pederson and Alex Bregman, among others, would be eligible to play for Israel, as well as others with Jewish heritage who are not practicing Jews, like Paul Goldschmidt and Harrison Bader. If all, or even some, of these stars decide to represent the Jewish state, we could see Team Israel and Ian Kinsler go all the way in the World Baseball Classic.