Howie Kendrick: Nationals acquisition of the year
By: Michael Aaron Chase Jr.
The Washington Nationals are striving to finally reach their ultimate goal of winning a World Series. With a record currently of 79-51 and the best offense in the National League they seem poised for a deep playoff run. Although the Nationals have been here before with an immensely talented team but eventually falling short in the postseason. This time though the team has the deepest roster it has ever had, with one key addition that may be a big part of their future postseason success. This players name is Howie Kendrick, and his trade acquisition maybe the most significant of all the Nationals roster moves this year. Not just because of his recent production since joining the team. But what his presence on the ball club could mean going forward.
Kendrick has been a welcomed addition to the Nationals lineup, producing from the moment he stepped into a batter’s box in a Nats uniform. He has hit .348 with a .385 on base percentage since joining the roster. Adding 5 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers and 21 runs batted in. He has been a godsend for a team with many significant injuries to their line-up, including Trea Turner, Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper. His consistency of hitting line drives and propensity to put the ball in play has been a great to add to the Nationals lineup. Looking down the line of how his acquisition could help in the postseason comes down to the option he provides manager Dusty Baker off his bench. Kendrick gives the Nationals another veteran bench player that is good versus left-handed pitching and a .291 career hitter. Thus his bat is valuable to utilize against National League playoff contenders with good left-handed starters. From Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill with the Dodgers, to Jon Lester of the Cubs, to Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin of the Diamondbacks and so on. This right-handed bat will give the Nationals another weapon to use and put in their lineup to counteract the tough left handed pitching they will face in the postseason.
The other big reason Kendrick in such a key pick-up is his versatility defensively. With his ability to play a serviceable left field, as well as, being a former Gold Glover at second base it gives Dusty Baker another way to rest his key regulars. With veterans like Jayson Werth coming back from injury. To Daniel Murphy nursing a nagging hip this allows Baker the opportunity to keep Kendrick’s bat hot while resting players for a deep postseason run. He thus provides the ultimate insurance policy that can help the Nats further cope with injuries going into the playoffs.
Overall the acquisition of Howie Kendrick will be a significant getting through the rest of the regular season, on into the playoffs. His versatility as well as productive bat can be a game changer for the Nats the rest of the year. Plus as we’ve seen teams who make it to World Series usually have one role player become a star of a playoff run. Maybe this year Kendrick is the Nationals “Unsung Hero”.