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From the LA Times Angels hope Howie Kendrick will be better than average


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Long characterized as a future batting champ, second baseman Howie Kendrick has a .292 career average but has never finished in AL top 10. Can he break through?

TEMPE, Ariz. — The breathless stories that tracked Howie Kendrick through the minor leagues and into the majors were all but required to refer to him as a future batting champion.dQd2Ef0FnaM

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I have a deranged optimism he will but deep inside I think not. While nowhere near a bust like Wood, Mcpherson, etc HK might be nothing more than an above average 2b. I don't care about HR from him, I'd like to see line drives, doubles, less double plays, and less swinging at waaaaaaaaay low and outside. 

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Let me point a couple things out:

 

1) Howie turns 30 in July. It is quite rare that a player turning 30 shows us something new or has a significant breakthrough. It happens, its just rare.

 

2) Howie's BA has been very consistent over the last four years - ranging from .279 to .291, all below his career average of .292.

 

3) While Howie's recent BAs have been lower than his earlier ones, they're still about the same relative to league average. Check this out:

 

Howie's BA relative to AL Average

2006: +10

2007: +50

2008: +36

2009: +25

2010: +23

2011: +36

2012: +40

 

So as you can see, he dipped down in 2009-10, but the last couple years has been on the rise and his .287 BA in 2012 was actually the highest relative to league average since 2007 when he hit .322.

 

So could Howie have a breakout year in 2013? Of course its possible. But even if he hits .315 with 20 HR, I don't know if it will as much be a breakout as a career year. And, in the end, we need to stop being disappointed every year because what we're seeing is probably what we'll continue to see: An above average (2-3 WAR) second baseman, no more or less.

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I still believe he has top 10 potential. And a top 10 hitter in the 2 between Trout and Pujols could be lethal. Hmmm could HK be the x factor this year? I think one could make a case for it.

Hitting in the #2 behind Trout worked wonders for Torii last season. HK will get his chance there. Let's hope Eppard has him mentally ready for it when it happens.

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On the plus side, Trout is pretty hard to double up.

it's not hard to double up on a fast runner when they're the lead runner. the vast majority of dp opportunities will be successful regardless of how fast the lead runner is. it's when the batter is the runner with elite speed that the double plays become much more difficult.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, and I very well could be, but we're double plays an issue before last season for Howie? We all know he's always had trouble chasing the low and away curve ball, but I don't remember him hitting into an enormous amount of dp's before 2012. Howie has been crucified for not living up to what others have said he would be. The guy is who he is, an above average second baseman with no plate discipline. He has improved with his glove since he came up but he hasn't improved his pitch recognition, which is disappointing.

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Its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Howie is almost 30 and I have a hard time imagining that he's going to become an on-base machine all of a sudden. I think best case scenario is that he becomes a bit more selective, meaning 40 walks a year rather than 25-30. If he can walk 40 times next year we'll see a .300+ BA, imo.

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it's not hard to double up on a fast runner when they're the lead runner. the vast majority of dp opportunities will be successful regardless of how fast the lead runner is. it's when the batter is the runner with elite speed that the double plays become much more difficult.

 

If you look at Kendrick's GB rate, there is reason to believe that having a fast guy in front of him will make teams guard against the run and that may lead to more balls getting through the IF defense.

 

He was captain worm-burner last year.

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