Kinsler somehow managed to last until the 17th round of the 2003 amateur draft where he was taken by the Texas Rangers. He was vastly underrated by most scouts, but the following year Baseball America listed him as a top prospect, which proved prophetic. By 2006 he was starting at second base for the Rangers and he finished seventh in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
With few weaknesses in his game, Kinsler became one of the best second basemen in the American League, earning All-Star selections in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 for the Rangers. Twice he was a 30/30 man for Texas (30 home runs and stolen bases in the same season).
Kinsler was traded to the Detroit Tigers after the 2013 season in a straight deal for power-hitting first baseman Prince Fielder. The Tigers were unhappy with Fielder’s effort in the ’13 postseason and comments he made after the team was eliminated in the ALCS. Fielder had also had a rocky second season in Detroit because one of his teammates (Avisail Garcia) had an affair with his wife. Seeing as Fielder’s contract was for several more years and a lot of money, the Tigers also sent money to Texas to help offset the salary hit.
In 2004 when Kinsler was still in the Texas minor league system, the Rangers offered him in a trade to the Colorado Rockies for veteran outfielder Larry Walker. But Walker, having trade rights, vetoed the deal and was later dealt to the Cardinals instead.