Dodger’s infielder Howie Kendrick is certainly off to a dreadful start. Kendrick is hitting a putrid .135 ( 7 for 52) in 53 plate appearances. After another 0 for 3 night he has a slash line of .135/.151/.286 through his first 15 games this season. After the Dodgers signed Kendrick to a two-year 20 million dollar contract this offseason, it seems like that was a huge mistake, or a gamble. A roll of the dice that came up snake eyes. He had originally rejected a 15.8 qualifying offer but his market shrunk and the Dodgers wisely waited for his asking price to diminish.
I think people are forgetting that not only is Kendrick a solid player, but that he has good reason for sucking the way he has thus far. The Dodgers signed Kendrick to what seemed like a very team friendly contract because he was one of the club’s best hitters in 2015. Kendrick has a career .291 average and has never hit below .279 in his entire career. Kendrick has averaged 180 hits per season over the course of his 11 season career. Last season Kendrick was the Dodger’s leading hitter with runners in scoring position as he posted a .360 (36 for 100 ) average in those situations
Kendrick went down early in the spring with a calf injury and missed the majority of the spring. He never got a full spring training to prepare for the season. Players need the spring in order to get their reps in before the season starts. Kendrick missed that opportunity. He went from the disabled list to a short rehab assignment, and then right into the Dodger lineup without a chance to get into shape.
Without a full spring training he was unable to get his timing. MLB hitters need those spring at-bats for that. That’s a good reason why Kendrick looks so awful at the plate right now. He’s way behind everyone. The only way he’ll regain his form is by playing. This is his spring training right now. Normally Kendrick plays well in the early part of the season. The veteran has a career .286/.337/.443 line in the month of April.
I am not trying to make excuses for him. There is no doubt that Kendrick has supremely sucked so far this year. The Dodgers have also been moving him around the diamond because of other injuries. He’s seen time at third base and left field this month. The situation is made more complicated because Chase Utley has been playing so well.
There’s no way to know when Kendrick will finally regain his timing at the plate. I know he has to play in order to do that. Kendrick is a good player. He’s too good to keep batting this poorly. There is no way he’ll bat .135 the entire season. Kendrick will start hitting again. I don’t know when, but trust me he will. We just have to be patient.