While Dodger’s president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is clearly incapable of building a great pitching staff, he has been able to acquire some good position players. One particular trade acquisition was one of the most likeable. The trade I am speaking of is the one for veteran Howie Kendrick. The Dodgers acquired him from the Angels back in 2015. They dealt pitching prospect Andrew Heaney for the experienced infielder. Kendrick was a player that the Dodger’s new front office (new at the time) supposedly long coveted for the Dodger’s vacant second base position.
This was a trade that I could finally get behind. I immediately liked it. Kendrick had been a solid player for the Angels for many years. He wasn’t spectacular, as in he wasn’t slugging 50 home runs per year, but he was a good hitter who made contact, yet could still hit home runs.
Kendrick was immediately productive for the Dodgers in his first year. He batted .295 while posting an OPS of 108 and a .336 OBP. He hit 9 home runs and drove in 54 runs. He batted .292 in the first half, including .295 in April with a .353 OBP. He also hit .303 on the second half. Perhaps his best skill was his ability to bat with runners in scoring position. During that season Kendrick hit .360 with runners in scoring position that included 44 runs driven in and only 19 strikeouts in 109 plate appearances.
Kendrick is by nature, a contact hitter. He’s had just three seasons in his entire career in which he posted over 100 strikeouts. This is a far cry from the whiff machines the Dodgers currently have in their lineup. A veteran contact hitter who bats well with runners in scoring position while maintaining pop is like finding a pearl in a clam. It’s a rare find these days.
Kendrick may have had a down year in 2016, his final year as a Dodger, found himself on the outside looking in. After yet another playoff embarrassment Friedman traded him to the Phillies. Not only did he get nothing in the return for Kendrick, his replacement was not even half the hitter he was.
Kendrick has gone onto become an excellent hitter for the Washington Nationals. Yes I realize that now Kendrick is older, injury prone and mostly a part time player. Yet he’s been fantastic in Washington D.C. Kendrick batted .303 in 2017, and .193 in 2018, 2019 was one his finest years. In 2019, Kendrick slashed .344/.395/.572 with 17 home runs in 370 plate appearances. Kendrick struck out just 49 times this season.
Now Kendrick is raking it in the postseason. Kendrick is now 7 for 28 with 6 runs driven in this postseason. That includes the grand slam home run in game 5 of the NLDS that sunk the Dodger’s 2019 season. Now Kendrick is just one win away from playing in the World Series. Meanwhile the Dodgers are watching from their couches. The Dodgers could have used a guy like Howie Kendrick. He was once a Dodger and Andrew Friedman let him get away. Food for thought while we wait for next season.