Howie Kendrick had what seemed to be a breakout season in 2011. Most of his improvement came from a career high 18 home runs. He is not having the same level of production in 2012. He is just hitting over .250 with four home runs. Howie has several factors leading to his decline this year.
Kendrick started out the season as the #2 hitter for the Angels. This position should have provided an opportunity for plenty of plate appearances along with good Run and RBI chances. He struggled for the first month of the season, hitting 0.241/0.267/0.398. These numbers are well below is his projected triple slash line of 0.275/0.320/0.431 (ZiPS). I was not surprised to see the drop in OBP. With Pujols hitting after him, teams would not be inclined to walk Kendrick. His walk rate was 3.5% for the first month of the season with pitchers pounding the strike zone 46% of the time. Then, he was moved down in the lineup where his BB% has increased slightly to 4.8% and only 43% of the pitches he has seen since then are in the strike zone.
With the pitchers pounding his strike zone, his strikeout rate is at a caree- high value of 22%. Earlier in the season, when pitchers were throwing more pitches into the strike zone, his K% was up to 24%. Since being demoted in the lineup, it is down to 20%.
Also his power stats are nearly at career lows as seen here:
Season: SLG, ISO
2009: 0.444, 0.152
2010: 0.407, 0.128
2011: 0.464, 0.179
2012: 0.367, 0.116
Career: 0.429, 0.139
The first sign that he is showing less power is from his batted ball distribution. His line drives down 4% (22% to 18%) from last year. That value alone would help to explain the 35 point drop in his BABIP (0.338 to 0.303).
Besides the drop in line drives, his fly balls have gone down 1%. This is not a huge deal, but his HR/FB is down from 16.5% in 2011 to 10.5% this year. There is though some hope though on this front. Here are his average home run and fly ball distances from the last 4 years:
2009: 282 ft
2010: 277 ft
2011: 289 ft
2012: 287 ft
He has been able to maintain the power gain from 2011, but has not been able to get as many fly balls to go for home runs.
Kendrick really has no positive qualities to look at this season. Plate discipline is down. Power is down. He is not having any luck on the base paths (three for six in stolen base attempts). There is just not any signs that he will hit any better. 2011 looks to be his career season and a possible slow decline to follow.