Washington Nationals: Injury cut short solid season from Howie Kendrick

bfinney
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: Howie Kendrick #12 of the Washington Nationals hits for a double in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: Howie Kendrick #12 of the Washington Nationals hits for a double in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Our next 2018 Report Card for the Washington Nationals is for Howie Kendrick, who was set to be a valuable utility player before his Achilles injury.

We have another 2018 Report Card for you. The Washington Nationals certainly missed Howie Kendrick after he suffered a torn Achilles that ended his season in mid-May.

Before the injury, Kendrick had a very respectable .303 average with a .805 OPS, as well as four home runs and 12 RBI in 40 games. It’s nothing that will set the world alight, but for someone who was expected to be a rotation player, it’s excellent.

Now his focus will be trying able to get healthy in time for the 2019 season, and he should at least be ready for the start of Spring Training. He’ll be entering the final year of his two-year deal, and should once again be a valuable piece off the bench, or as a fill-in starter.

More from District on Deck

The Positives for Kendrick

For the month and a bit that he was on the field, you got almost exactly what you were expecting from Kendrick, maybe a little bit more. He slashed .303/.331/.474, providing a high batting average and a low walk rate. This is basically what he’s done his whole career as his slash sits at .291/.334/.422, but he had a bit more slugging in 2018. He did so by showing a bit more extra-base power this year. He already had 14 doubles before the injury, while in all of 2017, he had just 16 doubles.

Kendrick’s versatility early on was a huge boost to the team that was missing Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton for extended periods. The veteran primarily played second base, with Murphy out to begin the year, but he also drew starts in right field and even played a bit of first base. For a player who is primarily going to be on the bench, being able to play multiple positions is a huge asset, and Kendrick showed that once again.

Areas for Improvement

Unfortunately, the 2018 season of Howie Kendrick is primarily going be remembered for his season-ending injury. It now remains to be seen whether he’ll be the same player when he returns to full health as Achilles injuries aren’t always the easiest to recover from, and even more so at his age. While the injury did result in the call-up of Juan Soto, it was still a shame to see Kendrick go down in that way.

Kendrick has never been great at drawing his walks, but even by his standards, his ability to do so dropped a little in 2018. In his career, he has a walk rate of 5.3 percent, while last season it dropped down 3.1 percent, both are pretty minuscule, but the latter is still noticeably worse. A lot of this can be because Kendrick had a career-high swing percentage of 54 percent. He was swinging away and not allowing himself to get into many three-ball counts to walk on.

The Final Grade

With Murphy missing for a lot longer than was expected, Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo filled in admirably at the keystone and that’s likely how the team will begin 2019. Part of the reason they can be comfortable doing so is due to the performance of Kendrick since his acquisition from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Before he hit the DL in May, it looked like Kendrick was going to exceed his expectations for the year. But unfortunately, with only 40 games under his belt in 2018, we have to factor that into his final season grade. B-

HOWIE KENDRICK. B-. . 2B/OF. Washington Nationals

Next. Kelvin Herrera - 2018 Report Card. dark

Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.

facebooktwitterreddit