The Los Angeles Angels (42-45) have been sorely lacking in offensive consistency this season. Newcomers Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have performed at well below their usual standards, a problem that has been compounded by a lack of timely hitting throughout the batting order.
The only consistent hitters in the lineup have been center fielder Mike Trout and second baseman Howie Kendrick, each of whom is hitting .315 after Saturday’s games.
Kendrick, who just a few weeks ago ranked second only to Detroit Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera in AL batting average, must be disappointed to hear that his efforts have not been met with an All-Star roster spot, losing out to the New York Yankees‘ Robinson Cano and Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Don’t get me wrong, Cano (.293, 20 HRs, 58 RBIs) and Pedroia (.325, five HRs, 50 RBIs) have both put up solid numbers this season. it is hard to argue with the job that Pedroia has done thus far in particular, and I would not begrudge him the starting spot.
However, Kendrick, who has tallied 11 HRs and 40 RBIs, has fallen under the long shadow cast by Cano’s reputation as a fearsome power hitter — a reputation that, though well deserved, doesn’t necessarily make him the most qualified to start in the midsummer classic.
Another factor that must be considered when evaluating the statistics of the three second basemen is their position in the batting order. Kendrick has been stuck at fifth or sixth for most of the season, forced to follow the beleaguered Pujols (.247 BA), Hamilton (.229, though two weeks ago it was just .207) and Mark Trumbo (.247).
Hitting behind these struggling hitters has left Kendrick with few RBI opportunities as they fail to reach base, and due to his low position in the order, Kendrick has not seen many quality pitches.
Compare Kendrick’s position to that of Cano, who hits third behind Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki, each of whom hits .280 and provides Cano with more RBI opportunities. Pedroia, meanwhile, hits third behind Jacoby Ellsbury (.301) and Shane Victorino (.285), and is protected by David Ortiz (.318, 17 HRs, 61 RBIs) hitting cleanup.
Clearly Kendrick has held his own with far less help in the lineup, a fact that seems to have been lost on All-Star voters.
Cano and Pedroia are both stellar players who have had very successful seasons thus far. It just hurts that Kendrick’s snub comes in the midst of his career year. Perhaps he can take the sting off of this disappointment by continuing his effective play and leading the Angels back into the playoffs.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.