Sometimes Howie Kendrick looks like a future batting champion other times he looks totally lost. Last year Kendrick managed to look like both. So what can Angel fans expect from Howie in 2010 (aside from more awful commercials)?
2009 Stats: 374 AB, .291 AVG, 61 R, 10 HR, 61 RBI, 11 SB, .778 OPS
2010 Bill James Projections: 467 AB, .308 AVG, 70 R, 11 HR, 68 RBI, 14 SB, .808 OPS
2010 Chone Projections: 448 AB, .301 AVG, 64 R, 10 HR, 61 RBI, 11 SB, .791 OPS
2010 Marcel Projections: 406 AB, .298 AVG, 61 R, 9 HR, 55 RBI, 11 SB, .782 OPS
2010 Monkey Projections*: 500 AB, .330 AVG, 75 R, 17 HR, 85 RBI, 15 SB, .855 OPS
*All stats courtesy of FanGraphs.com except the Monkey Projections which are strictly based on my own knowledge, logic and intuition.
2009 Review: Howie Kendrick accomplished the rare feat of being so bad that he was sent to the minors halfway through the season and still setting new career-highs in runs and RBIs. Heck, Kendrick even ended up hitting .291 despite hitting just .239 the first half of the season. That first half had the Angels and their fans really questioning what they really had in Kendrick, but he totally redeemed himself after being recalled from the minors and now seems to be back in everyone’s good graces. A major part of that wasn’t just his second half surge, but rather his strong post-season performance (.826 playoff OPS). After his nightmarish 2008 ALDS performance, seeing Howie come through on the big stage was the best sign possible that he has finally conquered his struggle with confidence and is ready to make good on his substantial promise.
3 Questions for 2010:
- Will the real Howie Kendrick please stand up? While Kendrick’s second half performance was great and everything, overlooking his disastrous start to 2009 is a foolish move. The one thing Howie has never done is perform consistently at the big league level, so there is still some real question as to what his standard performance is going to be. Is it Howie the future batting champ? Or is it Kendrick the incredibly streaky and frustrating part-time player?
- How much time will Howie have to share with Maicer Izturis? Speaking of part-time, that was essentially what Kendrick was reduced to be the end of the year, predominantly starting against left-handed pitchers with Izturis handling righties. As much as Mike Scioscia loves Maicer Izturis, even he has to know that Kendrick deserves to play everyday or close to it. Then again, Sosh may not be able to help himself and rotate Izzy in with Kendrick at second, but how much he does that will largely be dictate by Kendrick who could very well hit so well that Scioscia simply can’t take him out.
- Where in the order should Kendrick hit? Note that I said “should” because Howie will almost certainly start the season batting sixth or seventh in the order. But is that really the best use of his bat? His high average and solid speed would play well in the two-hole, but he doesn’t walk that much (not that walks have ever mattered much to Scioscia). Then again, his high contact rate and gap-power is a real asset when it comes to driving in runs.
2010 Preview: Yeah, so I am going to pretty much go against my own warning about Kendrick’s bad first half. To me, Kendrick just looked like a different guy in the batter’s box after his recall. Whatever anxieties were causing him to get all tied up inside his own head early in 2009 were visibly gone. Everything he did was just smoother and easier and the result was the effortless line-drive machine that we were promised back in 2006. Howie will still have to deal with handing over at-bats to Maicer Izturis, but I have a hunch that this will be Howie’s long-awaited breakout season. Not only is he going to hit for average as expected, but his power is going to become a real asset for him too (let’s not forget that Kendrick slugged a whopping .558 after his recall). Granted, Kendrick won’t walk much still and likely is going to remain prone to hitting into ill-timed double plays, but he’ll be a big reason for whatever offensive success the Angels do have in 2010.