JASON KENDALL MOVES TO A's
Kendall Move a
Brilliant One for A’s
With the apparent trade of JASON KENDALL to the A’s for ARTHUR RHODES and MARK REDMAN, the A’s have made a considerable move in the right direction (irrespective of the financial ramifications. See; http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/11/25/SPG2VA1BB01.DTL). To better analyze this trade, we have to scrutinize Kendall's career and be sure not to compare him to all other players in baseball, but all catchers in baseball.
Jason Kendall’s stats include lifetime figures of a .306 average and .387 OBA, excellent numbers for any ballplayer, especially a catcher (just how great we will see in a moment). Besides these gaudy numbers, Kendall also has some rather impressive career marks per 162 games played: .306, 9, 61 with 91 Runs scored and 18 SB. Most fantasy teams would be fairly happy with those numbers from a 2nd or 3rd OF let alone a starting catcher. And that is where this discussion about the A’s move gets mighty interesting.
Because of the wear and tear that C constantly live with, prevailing baseball wisdom has said that any C with over 1,200 career games played is bound to slow down (Kendall sits at 1,252 games played entering 2005). With modern training methods, and the players ever increasing desire to play as long as possible, this preconceived notion regarding C career paths may need to be re-written (for a great example look up Pudge Rodriguez who keeps putting together HOF seasons despite having played 1758 games). So with that problem apprently in need of rethinking, let’s move into the realm of historical overview to put Kendall’s career thusfar into perspective.
Here are the all-time rankings for Jason Kendall amongst all C with over 3,000 plate appearances
(stats taken from Lee Sinins Sabermetric Encyclopedia, 2004 Edition).
AVG .306 , 7th
OBA .387 , 5th
SB 140, 9th
Runs 706, 15th
Hits 1409, 36th
1B 1057, 24th
HBP 177, 1st
With Kendall showing no signs of slowing down, it appears that Kendall has an excellent shot of finishing in the top 10 all-time in all of the above categories including the top 5 in SB, Runs, Hits and 1B.
To leave the “traditional” realm for a moment let’s briefly take a look at a couple of sabermetric stats that show just how valuable Kendall is. The following table relates two Sabermetric staples, Runs Created and Runs Created per 27 outs.
RC 776, 21st
RC/27 6.16, 11th
Runs created charts how many actual runs a player creates for his team. For those of you in dire need of using your abacus there are a wide variety of Runs Created formulas available, at last count something like 24 of them (for a brief synopsis of the simplest formula see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runs_created). The numbers I have listed above are a more thorough and complex version of RC and RC27 than what is used by sources such as ESPN. My listed totals take into account such variables as the era the player played in as well as park he played in.
Runs created per 27 outs, or one game worth of outs, estimates how many runs per game a team made up of nine of the same player would score. Therefore a score of 8.0 would mean a team of 9 MIGUEL TEJADA’s would score an average of 8 runs per 9-inning game. That means a team made up of 9 Jason Kendall’s would score, on average, over 6 runs per game. This figure is highly significant since it places Kendall above such luminaries as PUDGE RODRIGUEZ (5.79), JAVY LOPEZ (5.76) and JASON VARITEK (5.34) to name but a few.
In closing Jason Kendall, barring injury, appears headed for a HOF career despite the fact that very few people realize it. One of the main reasons we neglect to mention Kendall’s name amongst the greatest of all-time is that he doesn’t have the gaudy jaw dropping HR and RBI totals of a slugger. Kendall’s accomplishments are more subtle than that, though they are by no means less important to the success of a ball club. Perhaps when Kendall wins a few division titles with the A’s people will begin to take notice of this quiet, wave riding San Diego boy who has firmly placed himself amongst the best offensive catchers ever to play the game.
Did you know that besides leading all C in HBP with 177, Jason Kendall sits in 11th all-time behind the all-time leader HUGHIE JENNINGS (287)?
Ray Flowers can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit Rays’ blog at www.wildpitch.blogspot.com for a full review of all of his recent article and other interesting stuff.