TINSMAN: Howie Kendrick has found his fountain of youth

Brian Tinsman
October 15, 2019 - 12:46 am
Howie Kendrick has found his fountain of youth

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The Washington Nationals' oldest position player is certainly not acting his age.

Howie Kendrick continued a hot postseason by raking at the plate in Game 3, going three-for-four with three doubles, tying an MLB record for the league championship series. 

More importantly, he knocked in three runs and scored twice.

His third double came off of a Cardinals pitcher named Ponce de Leon, which seems appropriate considering the 15th-century explorer by the same name who searched for a fountain of youth.

Kendrick has found his in D.C. and given the Nats way more than they bargained for. Remember, he was originally acquired in exchange for a no-name minor league pitcher in July 2017 and seemed destined for a role off the bench.

Now, guiding the franchise into uncharted postseason territory, it's hard to put together a starting lineup without writing Kendrick into the heart of the order. He is one of the team's best players and also one of its biggest bargains.

In the 2019 postseason, Kendrick is batting .314, which ranks behind only Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman among Nats' regulars. The difference is that Kendrick made $4 million this year, while Rendon and Zim made a combined $36.8 million.

He is also one of the most clutch hitters on the roster. In Game 3 alone, he drove in all three of his RBIs with two outs.

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It helps that he bats behind high-OBP hitters like Rendon and Juan Soto, which puts him in more RBI situations. But his presence in the lineup is also forcing opposing pitchers to pitch to Soto instead of being able to pitch around him.

Nobody should want to face the ageless wonder at the plate. 

He even had a chuckle about it after Game 3 with the TBS reporter, saying: "Youth is cool, we were all there at some point. But it's nice to see the old guys having fun too."

If only it were that easy in the field, where he has played primarily at second base.

Kendrick's defensive struggles in the NLDS nearly derailed the Nats vs. Los Angeles. The three errors in five games were only overcome by his timely grand slam in Game 5 that sealed the victory for D.C. 

That's the point: whatever limitations Kendrick has in the field are more than compensated for at the plate. He just needs at-bats.

The Nationals can ill afford to look past the Cardinals, but if they make it to the World Series, Kendrick is a strong candidate to take over designated hitter duties.

Either way, look for Kendrick to be a major part of his team's success for as long as the Nats' postseason continues.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.