Howie Kendrick: 2014 Angels Year in Review


A Los Angeles Angel since the beginning of his Major League playing career, Howie Kendrick, the 10th round draft pick in the 2002 draft, was coming off a great season in 2013. He only played in 122 games in the 2013 season, but he found his power stroke again hitting double digit home runs after a down year power wise in 2012. His performance led to high expectations for the 2014 season.

The Good:  Howie Kendrick is a special player. He is a second baseman that hits in the lineup anywhere between the four and six spots in the order. He has sneaky power and can hit to all fields with authority. His game changed a bit this season as he walked more than any other time in his career, but his strikeouts also went up. He wasn’t the home run hitter from 2013, but more the extra base hit type player and steal a bag when he needed it. That is what made the 2014 season special.

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Doing a little bit of everything made Kendrick a four and a half win player, the best since 2011, when he was an all-star. He was only behind Mike Trout on the team in the WAR department, and his 75 RBI were third on the club. He knocked out 181 hits, the closest he has gotten to 200 in his career.

In baseball you play defense along with offense and Kendrick fielded the ball well. Defensive metrics aren’t set in stone and should be taken lightly, but Kendrick had his best fielding season per UZR/150 of 6.7 since 2011. Notice the trend, everything is the best since 2011. His range was also five runs above average, giving him a total defensive runs saved of seven.

What comes with the good, also has something bad.

The Bad: There really wasn’t anything glaring out that he did badly. Some things I did notice was that he stole 11 bases in the first half of the season but only four in the second. That could be because he was worn down from playing the most games he has played in four seasons, or the fact that the Angels didn’t run much at all. The only thing I would like to see is him take advantage of the sneakiness that he has. Pitchers tend to not pay attention to him when you have players like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton surrounding him, and he should take advantage of that.

The Future: 2015 is a huge season for Kendrick and the rest of his career. Next season will be his last under the four-year, $33.5 million deal that he signed in 2012. The contract year myth will be thrown around a lot, but I believe Kendrick puts it all together in 2015.

I look for him to bring more speed to his game, and also the power. The FanGraphs steamer has him being a three win player, which is fair, do to regression, but I don’t see him doing so. 10 homers, 25 doubles and at least 15 swipes is what I am predicting for Kendrick. He will again be anywhere in the lineup from fourth to sixth, and should have his best all-around season, heading into free-agency.