Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Professional Hitter: 2017 Player Preview for Howie Kendrick


Leftfield was an abyss for the Phillies in 2016. The cast of miscreants who played the position provided Philadelphia with a putrid .212/.284/.332 batting line. That's just brutal.

As the season neared its merciful end, manager Pete Mackanin basically begged for professional hitters. General Manager Matt Klentak obliged. He brought in Howie Kendrick, a 33-year-old former All-Star who rolls out of bed and plays above average ball.

You can expect Kendrick to put up solid numbers for the Phillies this year and really stabilize a lineup that needs it. This is the tenth in a series of posts previewing the 2017 Phillies. This post looks at how Professional Hitter Howie Kendrick will affect Pete Mackanin's lineup.

Look, no one expects Kendrick to be an All-Star again. But he is a dramatic improvement for the Phillies over the slop they served up to opponents every day in 2016.

In the past five seasons, Kendrick has put up WARS of 2.9, 3.4, 5.3, 1.1 and .5. Putting up a .5 WAR. Even if he puts up a .5 WAR, that's an improvement.

But he put up a .5 WAR while hitting .255/.326/.356. A deeper dive into Kendrick's 2016 season might show that he could likely do a bit better than that.

Kendrick's 2016 strikeout rate (17.7 percent) was a slight increase over his career number (17.2). His 9.2 walk rate was significantly higher than his career mark of 5.3. But that might have come from where he batted in Los Angeles' batting order. Interestingly, Kendrick's babip was a career low .301. He's normally in the high .330s. Meanwhile, his line drive, infield fly ball and home run/flyball rates were pretty close to his career norms. One has to wonder if he just ran into a bit of bad luck last year.

Let's say he ages, but returns a bit to normal with his bapip and walk rate. It's not hard to envision him hitting .273/.330/.400.

Adding those numbers to such an epically bad offense would have an interesting impact. Those batting average and on-base percentages would have been third on the team last year.

While others think the Phillies could trade Kendrick for prospects at the deadline, I'm not sure that's his destiny. Unless he hits well and the team is a trainwreck, I imagine him finishing out the season.