Thursday, December 4, 2014

#334 Jason Kendall

About the Front: Why so sullen, Jason Kendall? The Pirates were still perennial contenders when they drafted you.

About the Back: Fred Kendall's big league career spanned from 1969 through 1980, primarily with the Padres, and he hit .234/.285/.312. He peaked with San Diego in 1973, with a line of .282/.320/.396, 10 homers, and 59 RBI. You may also recognize the name of Jack Zduriencik, who is now the GM of the Seattle Mariners.

Triple Play:

1. Jason was a three-time All-Star with the Pirates, all within his first five seasons (1996, 1998, 2000). In 1998, he batted .327/.411/.473 with 12 home runs and a career-best 75 RBI. He also stole 26 bases in 31 tries and led the National League with 31 times hit-by-pitch.

2. He broke his ankle in a nasty mishap while running to first base in July 1999 and missed the rest of the season. He returned to play another 11 seasons in the big leagues, but his offensive game soon declined. From 2001-2010 he batted .277/.350/.345 with 30 homers in 1,432 games, compared to .314/.402/.456 with 45 homers in 653 games in the first five years of his career. Ankle injury aside, Kendall had the heaviest workload among modern catchers, topping 140 games eight times. That almost certainly took a toll on his hitting.

3. While with the Royals in 2010, Jason and teammate Willie Bloomquist struck upon a dream of becoming a two-man bobsled team in future Winter Olympics contests. Earlier this year, Bloomquist claimed that they're still hopeful of competing in South Korea in 2018, despite the fact that neither man has begun training in the other sport.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: For whatever reason, it didn't occur to me that a lot of these draft pick photos depicted the young subject in a slapped-together uniform. With a more critical eye, I can now see that Kendall's mesh Pirates jersey with its yellow lettering on white fabric is a bit less than authentic.

Bill James Said: Jason batted .276 with a single home run and 40 RBI at Class A Augusta in 1993, which wasn't enough to put the 19-year-old in Bill's crosshairs for this book.

On This Date in 1993: December 4. A truce between the Angolan government and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels comes to an end. Civil war in the western African nation had begun in 1975, and will continue until 2002.

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