Sep 18, 2009, 12:45 PM EDT
Last night the Angels bounced back from Wednesday’s umpire-aided loss to the Red Sox, picking up a one-run win at Fenway Park thanks in large part to Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick homered off Josh Beckett early and then delivered a go-ahead single off Billy Wagner late, with embattled closer Brian Fuentes getting the final two outs for his MLB-leading 42nd save.
After hitting just .231/.281/.355 through 51 games Kendrick was demoted to Triple-A in mid-June despite being four seasons into his big-league career. He went 27-for-78 (.346) in 20 games at Triple-A, which is no surprise given his lifetime .360 batting average in 399 games as a minor leaguer, and has stayed hot since rejoining the Angels in July.
Kendrick is 58-for-153 (.379) with five homers and 11 doubles in 44 games since returning to the majors, bringing his batting average all the way up to .298. And despite managing just 21 homers and 40 non-intentional walks in 347 career games, Kendrick has shown that his amazing batting averages in the minors were no fluke by hitting .304 in 1,359 plate appearances.
Here’s the complete list of all the second basemen in baseball history with a higher batting average then Kendrick through the age of 25: Eddie Collins, Tony Lazzeri, Billy Herman, Dustin Pedroia, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer. That’s it, six guys. Five of them are in the Hall of Fame and the only one who isn’t was last season’s AL MVP.
Problems staying healthy and a lack of power or plate discipline makes it unlikely that Kendrick truly belongs in that company, but he has an awfully unique skill set that makes him one of the most interesting hitters in baseball to watch and has come up very big for the Angels in the second half.
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