Kendrick remains out, in midst of career year
Posted on: May 24, 2011 2:59 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2011 3:23 pm
By Evan Brunell
Howie Kendrick hasn't played in four games because of a tight right hamstring, and is still a couple games away from returning.
So far, the Angels have resisted putting Kendrick on the 15-day disabled list because of how crucial he's been to the team, plus the guess that he'll be back after a week.
"He probably still needs a couple days before we'll consider getting him in a game," manager Mike Scioscia told the Los Angeles Daily News. "We don't feel that way [a trip to the disabled list] now, but we'll see in a couple days."
Kendrick is in the middle of a .322/.388/.520 season, good enough for a .908 OPS which is miles ahead of his career .757 OPS entering the season. The 27-year-old has been long on potential for quite some time but has never been able to put it together, only just nailing down a full-time job last season despite four years of extensive playing time prior to that.
It's a little too early to deem Kendrick a new and improved hitter, but things are pointing in that direction with an 8.1 percent walk rate, up from his career 4.2 percent rate. That's a major improvement, although it's not entirely supported by his strike-zone swing numbers. There is some reason to be optimistic, as his rate of swinging at pitches outside the strike zone has dropped 1.5 percent, which sounds small but is huge when you consider he's seen 768 pitches on the year -- so he's swung at 12 less pitches, which have gone for balls -- a number that will only rise if he maintains that three percent drop.
Kendrick is also hitting the ball much harder on the strength of a line-drive percentage that has spiked. While line-drive percentage isn't the end-all, be-all in terms of power production, it is noticeable how much better Kendrick is driving pitches. He's still rifling doubles at the same rate, but his seven home runs are just three behind his career high and if he can get back into the lineup soon and stay there, 20 homers is doable.