YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Howie Kendrick's strikeouts a concern for Angels

Kendrick's average has dropped as his strikeout percentage has increased at an alarming rate.

May 23, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

OAKLAND — Several big league veterans, including Torii Hunter, were convinced Howie Kendrick would win a batting title some day after the Angels second baseman hit .285 as a rookie in 2006, .322 in 2007 and .306 in 2008.

Entering Tuesday, the only category in which Kendrick ranked among American League leaders was strikeouts — he was tied for ninth with 39, including five three-whiff games, in 161 plate appearances.

That Kendrick went five for 38 in 11 games through Monday, a .132 clip that dropped his average from .298 on May 9 to .257, is disturbing enough.

More worrisome for the Angels, who signed Kendrick to a four-year, $33.5-million deal in January, is that a player known for consistently squaring the ball up is not only making less solid contact, he's making less contact of any kind, a trend that has extended into a third year.

Kendrick's strikeouts jumped from 71 in 2009 to 94 in 658 plate appearances in 2010, a strikeout rate of 14.3%. Kendrick whiffed 119 times in 583 plate appearances last season, a rate of 20.4%. His strikeout rate this season: 24.2%.

"I've chased some pitches, and at the same time, I've missed some good pitches to hit," Kendrick said. "I can't tell you it's any one thing. I just need to swing at better pitches."

Actually, advanced statistics show Kendrick is not expanding the strike zone any more than usual. According to, 33.6% of the pitches Kendrick has swung at have been outside the strike zone, virtually the same as his career "O-swing" average of 33.8%.

"I'm aware that I've struck out quite a few times," said Kendrick, who capped a three-run first inning Tuesday night with a run-scoring single. "But I'm not going up there thinking about that. I'm just trying to execute."

Mickey Hatcher, fired as hitting coach last week, said it's "mind-boggling" how often Kendrick is striking out.

"He's one of those guys who when he gets hot, he's one of the toughest hitters in the game," Hatcher said. "I wish I had answers to give him. He's searching for it."

Short hops

Left fielder Vernon Wells underwent a 30-minute surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb Tuesday and will be sidelined eight to 10 weeks. … Outfielder Cory Aldridge, who went one for 13 for the Angels in 2010, signed a minor league contract with the organization and homered in his first game with triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday. Aldridge, 32, played in Korea last season and Mexico this year.

Los Angeles Times Articles