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Monday, September 21, 2009
A logjam in Orange County

Steve Bisheff on the Angels' logjam at second base: For the record: A few weeks ago when the Angels featured an all-.300-hitting lineup -- remember? -- I gave short shrift to the possibility of Kendrick eventually joining that list. At the time, he was hitting just .275.

I was wrong. I wrote then, "To reach .300, he'd have to hit something like .400 the rest of the way." Well, since then he's batted .422 in 18 games. And he's passed .300.

I used to think that Kendrick would someday win a batting title. He's a .360 lifetime hitter in the minors, after all. But he essentially refuses to take a walk, and it's really hard to win a batting title that way. Especially if you're a right-handed hitter like Kendrick.

He is, on the other hand, a legitimate .300 hitter. Is he a better hitter than Maicer Izturis? Well, sure. But not so much against right-handed pitchers (Izturis is a switch-hitter who's done slightly better against righties than lefties in his career). Defensively, they're both solid.

Scioscia's simply in an odd position, with three middle infielders -- Kendrick, Izturis, and Erick Aybar -- who are good enough to play every day for most teams (and we're not even counting Brandon Wood). In the absence of a trade (which should probably happen this winter), Scioscia's playing the best defensive shortstop (Aybar) almost every day and platooning the other two at second base. Batting averages and hot streaks aside, it seems to me a highly defensible tactic.