Kinsler streaks into All-Star break

Kinsler streaks into All-Star break

ARLINGTON -- Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has a 25-game hitting streak entering the All-Star break, as he prepares to head to New York for the Midsummer Classic.

Kinsler has also had a 19-game hitting streak earlier this season.

He is starting to earn national attention, getting the nod from ESPN.com baseball writer Jayson Stark as his pick for American League MVP of the first half of the season.

The rest of baseball is learning what Kinsler's managers, coaches and players forecasted during his first three years in Texas.

"He's just talented," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Kinsler has taken his offensive game to another level while hitting mostly in the leadoff spot this year. He led the American League in batting average (.333), total bases (213), hits (131), runs (83) and extra-base hits entering Sunday's final game before the All-Star break.

He was also hitting .397 with runners in scoring position and had 23 stolen bases in 24 attempts.

"He doesn't play the game scared," Washington said. "He plays the game the way you're supposed to."

The one knock on Kinsler has been his defense -- he had 16 errors entering Sunday.

He has frustrated his managers going back to the Minor Leagues with his occasional lack of focus, but Washington said Kinsler has made big strides in that department, and will only improve with time.

"Just playing baseball more and more will cure all of that," Washington said. "Time takes care of all of that."

Kinsler is three games shy of Gabe Kapler's team-record 28-game hitting streak. He has developed a consistency that the Rangers projected of him when he hit 51 doubles as a Minor Leaguer in 2004.

"He knows what he's capable of hitting," Washington said. "He knows where he's going and he knows where he's not good. He protects where he's not good."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.