1. 2B Howie Kendrick
If someone told you before the season that at the beginning of June Howie Kendrick would have a compelling case for being the Washington Nationals best offensive player, you would have thought they were crazy. Well, as we sit here at the beginning of June that statement has become reality, and you could make a good case saying Kendrick has been the best overall hitter on the Nationals team. Coming into Saturday Kendrick has hit for a line of .326/.364/.585 with nine home runs and 33 runs batted in.
The veteran utility man has been red-hot of late, going 10 for his last 18 with four extra-base hits and eight runs batted in. When Kendrick has been in the Nationals starting lineup, the team has posted a 15-13 record. When he hasn’t, they are 9-20. Quite simply put, when Howie Kendrick is on the field he makes the Nationals a much better team.
Kendrick has always been a good hitter his entire career, but his power numbers this season are reaching levels he has never been before. 2013 was the last season that Kendrick hit double-digit home runs, hitting 13 and driving in 54 for the Los Angeles Angels. Even before that in 2011 when he made the American League All-Star team he hit 18 home runs, his career high. Kendrick is on pace to easily break this number with nine home runs already and easily could drive in 70-75 runs on the season.
The 35-year-old is a free agent at seasons end, so Washington would be smart to move him this year. With the Nationals Kendrick has not been able to play every day due to health concerns about his ability to hold up, but the veteran would be a perfect trade target for an American League team looking for a D.H. Kendrick likely will be one of the top hitters on the trade market this summer, and even with his outstanding performance don’t expect Washington to get a lot back in return. His age and contract situation will negate the Nationals from getting a big package back in a deal for Kendrick.