Player Profile: Jason Kendall

26 02 2008

Today, I’m kicking off the Player Profile feature on BrewersNation. For the next 25 days, I will preview each player that is projected to make the 25-man roster on Opening Day. Starting off with the starters makes the most sense, as the bench players and such will sift out by the time I reach their profiles. Here we go…

Jason Kendall joined the Brewers this off-season, signing a 1-year, $4.25M contract with a club-option for 2009. The teams looked to upgrade the pitcher-catcher dynamic as well as the clubhouse atmosphere after shipping Johnny Estrada to the New York Mets. Johnny is known for his inflexibility when it comes to working with coaches and his awful defense. The Brewers hope to improve on that this upcoming season.

Strengths:

Kendall is a workhorse behind the plate. He is known for not wanting to take days off, as he simply enjoys playing as much as possible. Last season, Kendall played in 137 games, the lowest amount of games played since his injury-plagued season in 1999. After Estrada only playing in 120 games last season, the workhorse mentality of Kendall will be a welcome sight, not to mention someone that can run the bases faster than I can walk.

Jason also develops an incredibly comfortable report with his pitchers. Pitchers from past teams, Oakland in particular, have raved about his ability to call the game to a pitcher’s strengths, rather than strictly calling a game to a certain philosophy. As I have mentioned before on the site, it has been widely publicized that Oakland’s pitchers’ ERAs all went up over a point after Kendall’s departure last season.

After the starting rotation for the Brewers struggled so mightily last season, a pitcher-friendly catcher like Jason Kendall will be welcomed with open arms. One of the biggest reasons for Milwaukee’s struggles down the stretch last season was the starting pitcher’s inability to pitch deep into games. The bullpen largely became worn down by the end of the season, and the pitchers’ ERAs skyrocketed. Doug Melvin and Brewers fans around the country hope that the intangibles Kendall brings to Milwaukee will help Brewers pitchers immensely. I expect it will.

Finally, Jason Kendall brings a scrappy offensive mindset to Milwaukee’s batting order. Filled with young, aggressive power hitters, the Brewers have a tendency to strike out in high numbers without working the count very much. It was not uncommon last season to see opposing pitchers reach the 6th inning with only 60-70 pitches thrown. Jim Skaalen, Brewers’ hitting coach, has already raved during the first week of camp about how Kendall fights off pitches and makes the opposing pitcher throw many more pitches than he wants to. This type of battler will be a nice addition to Milwaukee’s power-laden line-up.

Finally, Kendall is very adept at getting on base regularly. Again, with the free-swinging youngsters behind him, Kendall will be invaluable if he can get on base and provide the top of the order with men on base. Last season after being traded to Chicago, Kendall posted a .362 OBP, with a .301 OBP overall. Before last season, however, his lowest season OBP was .335, and that happened in 2001. Needless to say, Jason has proven his ability to get on base consistently, which is something Milwaukee has striven for the entire off-season.

Weaknesses:

There is no getting around it. Jason Kendall is about as much of a power threat as I am. In the past three seasons combined, Jason has hit 4 home runs. Four. That includes a zero home run campaign in 2005 and only one in 2006. Perhaps that means he’s due to increase that number this year if one follows that trend, but I highly doubt it. That said, Milwaukee did not sign Jason Kendall for his power numbers. Milwaukee’s lineup has plenty of pop in it, no question about that, and the batting order needed a player that can post a high OBP, work the count, and turn over the pitcher’s spot. Kendall can do that. Still, his power numbers are still embarrassing, and it may become a common sight to see Kendall pinch-hit for in the 9th inning.

In addition to lacking power, Kendall lacks a powerful throwing arm. Fans complained about Johnny Estrada’s inability to throw runners out at second base, but Jason Kendall is worse. He only threw out 5 of 57 runners last season, or a paltry 8.8%. Yost has tried to say that his throwing percentage is misleading and blaming it on the pitchers inability to give him a chance, but he did also mention that Kendall’s throwing mechanics are off. This is a sugar-coated way of Yost admitting that Kendall’s throwing percentage is awful, but they are going to work on it over the spring.

Projections:

ZiPS – .257/.332/.313
The Hardball Times – .271/.347/.350

ZiPS is the pessimist between the two projections, but I tend to lean more to that side rather than THT’s projection line. Kendall will hit for absolutely no power and thus no slugging percentage this season, but he will continue to get on-base a good amount for a catcher. Expect Kendall to consistently work the opposing pitcher’s pitch count and continuously put the ball in play, even if it is just a ground ball to the shortstop.

Kendall’s offensive ability is admittedly weak, but his clubhouse presence and the report he will build with the pitchers will help the team get over the hump this season into the post-season. Expect the starting pitchers’ ERAs to decline a bit this season, and expect them to pitch deeper into the games. Jason Kendall will not be a glamorous signing for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he will provide the veteran toughness and grittiness that a young team like the Brewers needs.

Projected Offensive Line: .261/.335/.330
Projected Season Rating (out of 10): 7.0

How would you rate Kendall?

Advertisements

Actions

Information

One response

15 08 2008
Right Field Bleachers » Blog Archive » In the News

[…] BrewersNation profiles Jason Kendall. Their verdict? “Jason Kendall will not be a glamorous signing for the Milwaukee Brewers, but […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: