So, in the quest to win the elusive 2004 AL Central, Royals General Manager Dayton Moore has engineered the signing of Jason Kendall to a 2 year, 6 million dollar deal. This daring bit of economic stimulus will likely not jumpstart the Kansas City economy unless Kendall is a compulsive spender. But let's look at the overall package.
Jason Kendall doesn't hit home runs, he doesn't strike out, he doesn't make extra base hits, and he gets hit by pitches.
Kendall gets hit by 20 pitches per 162 games, which shouldn't be a concern due to the revolutionary medical care he will receive from the Royals organization and the fact that 36 year old catchers are typically pretty durable. Kendall had 23 extra base hits and was hit by 17 pitches in 2009, an interesting trajectory which suggests more Kendall HBP than XBH in 2010.
Kendall's OBP was slightly lower than the league average, while his SLG percentage really sucked. When Kendall batted in 2009, you could expect .387 bases per PA. Which is down from .396 bases per PA in 2008, but up from .361 bases per PA (in a year which Kendall was banished to the AAAA National League after failing to stick in the American League). The only Royals with over 100 PA in the radius of Kendall in EB are Yuniesky Betancourt (.392 EB), Mitch Maier (.410 EB), Willie Bloomquist (.392 EB), Josh Anderson (.317 EB), and a badly injured Mike Aviles (.272 EB)
Oh yeah, Brayan Pena had 16 XBH in 165 PA, Kendall had 23 XBH in 452 AB. But unfortunately for the Royals, Brayan Pena is not old enough, and not scrappy enough to handle the duties of catching in 2010. So there,
Kilayan Brayan Pena better recognize.
One part of Kendall's problem with slugging the ball involved playing baseball in Oakland for two years. Another part of his problem involved having craptacular slugging at most stadiums.
What else does Jason Kendall do with a bat? Well, for one thing, he was really awesome with his bat before the Pirates left Three Rivers Stadium (and before he got a big contract). But that was 10 years ago. He had 6 sac bunts in 2009, which will please Ryan, until Ryan realizes that Kendall won't go for 10 in one year, LIKE A GOOD HITTER SHOULD DO DAMNITTTTTTT. (/lefebvre mode off). He's also good at getting hit by pitches, a trait that the team has lacked since Angel Berroa realized that getting hit by pitches really hurt.
As eluded to earlier, Jason Kendall makes a lot of contact with the ball. He made contact 86% of the time in 2009, 91% in 2008, and 89% on his career, while the average player made contact 80% of the time. He also swung at the first pitch 17% of the time, and on his career, he swung at the first pitch 12% of the time, while the average player swung at 26% of first pitches (and Miguel Olivo swung at 40% of first pitches). Out of the strikes thrown to him, he was caught looking 36% of the time, above the ML average. Which means that DM is not going to let this team fall behind in players watching strikes go right down the middle.
Jason Kendal will also benefit from something we saw when Yuniesky Betancourt was acquired. The fact that Kendall succeeds Olivo will allow the Grit worshippers and assorted other fans to give Jason Kendall an absurd amount of leeway. Just like how Yuniesky being the worst player in the AL was much better than Tony Pena Jr.
After all, Kendall is a scrapper who doesn't strike out or swing at bat pitches, while Olivo wasn't. So feel if Kendall has the same problems as Olivo with passed balls or wild pitches, don't expect them to bring it up too harshly. After all, would you rather have Olivo, his home runs, and all the game-killing strikeouts, or would you rather have Jason Kendall, the UNSUNG HERO of the Brewers?
Remember, Jason Kendall went to the playoffs in three straight seasons. He's been there, dude. (Granted, he really sucked in October, but that's not gonna be a factor). Veteran Prescence. He can tell those young dudes about how he went to the NLDS in 2008 and how it only made him hungrier to return and seek redemption. Plus, he's large enough to break up fights involving Jose Guillen and team buses.
But, I salute Dayton Moore for his efforts to win the 2004 AL Central title, a title that was stolen from us for 6 straight seasons. But with our team of dudes who were really awesome in 2004, like Kendall, Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, along with the random dudes off the street who we got for Mark Teahen, we're gonna win that 2004 AL Central flag and finish the work of Allard Baird and the 2003 Royals. YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH This is the Year.