Angels’ Kendrick shows flashes of potential

Howie Kendrick needs to start living up to his All-Star status. (Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Angels sent three players to the midsummer classic in Arizona, two of whom were pitchers.

This tally is a pretty accurate reflection of the Angels’ style of play thus far in 2011. It is a club whose primary weapon is a lights-out pitching staff. The offense has yielded the spotlight to the rotation, and rightfully so.

So naturally, it should come as no surprise that second baseman Howie Kendrick is lost among all of the hubbub over studs Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and company. It’s a shame, really, as Kendrick is putting on quite a show with little fanfare.

Obviously, his trip to Arizona over the break is a huge sign of respect from the league and baseball fans everywhere. But Kendrick’s steady play has gone largely unnoticed by fans of his own squad.

The biggest stories in Anaheim have been the pitching (obviously) and the performance of big names such as Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells and Russell Branyan. The team’s inconsistency at the plate has dominated headlines in Southern California, so it comes as a surprise that Kendrick’s solid performance has gone largely unnoticed.

It could be that Kendrick’s production tends to yield little runs. He hit safely 91 times before the All-Star Break, the sixth-best such statistic among second basemen. However, he is tied for 11th-worst among second basemen in home runs with eight. His 29 RBIs ranked in the bottom 10 among second basemen.

That doesn’t mean his accomplishments aren’t any less impressive. Kendrick’s .302 batting average is the best in the Angels’ lineup. His 92 hits also currently lead Los Angeles.

It is frustrating to see a player with Kendrick’s potential batting primarily for average, but his ability to get on base is valuable to such an anemic offense. In fact, the second baseman leads the club with 42 runs scored. He is on pace to set a personal best in runs scored.

Kendrick has long been touted as a future batting champion. He hasn’t made quite the splash fans expected, but he has been steadily improving in his six MLB seasons. His trip to the All-Star Game may have been on a technicality, but it’s certainly a confidence booster for Kendrick and his supporters.

The second half of the season is underway, and Kendrick has had a disappointing series against Oakland. Texas is coming to Anaheim for the next series; if the Angels hope to compete with the red-hot Rangers, Kendrick needs to get back on track and stay consistent for the rest of the season. It’s time to live up to the all-star hype.

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