Remember when Howie Kendrick was a highly touted prospect? Remember when he was considered almost a can’t miss star for fantasy owners? Having now spent at least part of seven seasons in the Major Leagues, I think everyone has a slightly different view of him. The 2012 season didn’t do anything to improve the outlook, as you can tell be these numbers:
550 At Bats
.287 Batting Average (158 Hits)
8 Home Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.400 Slugging Percentage
Those who thought he had a power breakout in 2011 (18 HR in 537 AB) were sorely mistaken. As we warned prior to the season, that came courtesy of a 16.5% HR/FB, something he had never shown before in his career.
That said, there is more upside then what Kendrick produced in 2012. While he’s never going to be a big fly ball hitter, last season’s mark was rock bottom. Let’s look at the past five years to give you an idea:
- 2008 – 26.0%
- 2009 – 27.4%
- 2010 – 28.1%
- 2011 – 26.5%
- 2012 – 20.8%
Yes, he should increase that number a little bit, but he is just never going to hit enough balls in the air to generate significant power. Even if he were to improve on last season’s 8.9% HR/FB, can we really expect him to hit more than 12-14 HR in a season? For those who want to look at the doubles (32 last season) and hope that some of those could become home runs, I just don’t see that as being the case here. There simply are not enough fly balls.
So, he has got to produce either a great average or significant speed to get fantasy owners excited. Considering he’s never stolen more than 14 bases in a Major League season, we can throw that one out the window.
As for the average, it was supposed to be his calling card but that has long been proven inaccurate. His minor league marks, which got owners excited, were based on a lot of luck. With the strikeouts increasing in recent years (20.4% in ’11, 19.4% in ’12) and realistic BABIP numbers, at this point it is safe to say that Kendrick is what he is. For the past four seasons he has been between .279 and .291 and, while he could push .300, that just isn’t something that I would expect going into the season.
So, what exactly do we have? A 2B/OF who will likely go around 12/12 with a .290 average and not a significant number of RBI/R since he hits lower in the order. Is there value? Yes, but only as a MI/OF5 type in deeper formats or as a bench option for use as a short-term fill-in. It’s impossible for me to go into ’13 targeting him and planning on using him as a starting option.
What about you? Is Kendrick a player you like for 2013? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out the rest of our extremely early 2013 rankings: