#15 - HOWIE KENDRICK, 2B
Howie Kendrick was just starting his fifth season of professional baseball when he got the call to the big leagues in April of 2006. He batted .367 in 2005 splitting time between High A Ball and Double A and when injuries had made for a thin infield early in '06 he arrived. While he didn't set the world on fire initially the team wisely allowed him to adjust to the league. With Casey Kotchman out for the season with mononucleosis, Howie played 384 innings at 1B compared to only 220 at 2B. Nevertheless he was the heir apparent to Adam Kennedy.
Soon he was the everyday second baseman. Despite never having won a batting title despite coming up from the minors advertised as a "future batting champion", Howie Kendrick was the glue at the keystone position over three straight division championships of 2007, '08 and '09. At times he would seem to platoon with the left-handed bat of Maicer Izturis in those years but in each season Howie would have hundreds more innings at 2B than the Mice Man.
Howie gave Angels fans a day-in, day-out reliability, which is why it was shocking when he tumbled with an outfielder in 2013 and missed five weeks with a tweaked wrist. Weirdest of all, his August 5 collision came as he was closing in on Bobby Knoop's 801 games at 2B for the Angels, which was at the time the third most ever by an Angel. Howie healed and by the end of 2013 was holding that mark - 813 games at 2B compared to Knoop's 801.
In 2013 Howie also became the ninth Angel with 1,000 hits. His 22.1 Wins Above Replacement ranks tenth in franchise history. His glove has helped the cause adding 3.9 Defensive WAR to his totals. Although he never won that damn batting title he has hit .292 as an Angel, ranking fourth among Halos with at least 3,000 Plate Appearances.
With a fastball-hungry eye he has smashed 216 doubles, sixth most ever by an Angel. He is the only Halo with more than 200 doubles and less than 5,700 Plate Appearances.While he has a penchant for strikeouts and seems allergic to walks, his offense is great when once considers the difficulty of filling his defensive position with anyone who can hit great. Howie gets it done well on both ends, and like few ever did in Anaheim at any position.
He turned thirty years old on July 12, 2013 but put in his second best season when measured by OPS+ that year. A fan favorite, his disarming smile and cool demeanor make us all forget the Howard's television and Radio commercials that insulted fan intelligence like no other marketing campaign of the Kuhl-Carpino era.