When Howie Kendrick was first called up back in 2006 it wasn't a question of if he would win a batting title, it was a question of how many would he win? It was believed that Kendrick was some kind of hitting savant who was going to hit .330 just by showing up for work. It was an expectation that was so unrealistic that it bordered on criminal, yet we all bought into it.
Well, after seven full and partial seasons, Kendrick has exactly zero batting titles to his name. In fact, he has only twice hit over .300, back in 2007 and 2008, but he had 353 and 361 plate appearances in those seasons, so he never would've qualified for the title. Since then, Kendrick has been a full-time starter for the Angels and a pretty good one at that, he just hasn't been anything resembling a batting champ.
That's not a knock on Howie, mind you. He is betting .295 for his career, so he has still been a very good hitter, just not a great one. What we found out about Kendrick in the majors is that he is a fairly free swinger who doesn't do so well with breaking balls. If the backbone of your offensive success is feasting on fastballs, it is really going to limit your ability to hit for an elite average.
What those pretty obvious weaknesses, after so many years, finally convinced those who followed the Angels of is that Kendrick would never challenge for a batting title. It just wasn't going to happen. He'll calmly click along for years hitting around .290 and we would all be perfectly happy with that even though we would all reserve the right to make "Howie batting title count" jokes as if we are somehow displeased with having a borderline All-Star second baseman on the team. But then Howie had to go and hit .335 through the first 70 games of the 2013 season.
That sonuvabitch. How dare he go and get our hopes up all over again. Sure, a batting title doesn't have the same kind of prestige it used to, but it represents the supposed potential that we all thought Kendrick had left on the table. Now we have to entertain the idea that Kendrick has finally blossomed into the hitter we all had long hoped he would be now that he is just weeks shy of his 30th birthday.
Dare we dream that dream? Is this performance for real? Can he sustain this level of production not only for the rest of this season but maybe even beyond?no comments