Howie Kendrick And Erick Aybar: Middle Infield Of The Present And Future
The Angels aren't looking into the future, but they should be excited. Excited about their young talented middle-infield combo of Howard "Howie" Kendrick (47) and Erick Aybar (2).
Aybar, the shortstop and youngest of the two, has been making waves recently with his big production at the plate. Entering Wednesday's game on the road in Kansas City, Aybar is hitting .315, a career best, with a modest 36 runs batted in to go along with 14 doubles, four triples, three round-trippers and eight steals.
He has been sizzling as of late, batting a whopping .491 in June and don't get me started about Tuesday's hitting clinic he put on in yesterday's "twin bill" in Kansas City. In nine plate appearances he had seven hits including two doubles and a triple, four runs batted in, five runs scored, a steal and a walk.
The Angel's staff hasn't overlooked Aybar's recent success at the plate.
"He's playing baseball," manager Mike Scioscia said. "That's the ceiling that everybody saw. And it's great to see a young player start to get comfortable and show the talent he's shown in the Minor Leagues."
Now, of course Aybar will settle down, but there is no arguing he has the potential to be a .300 hitter with his excellent plate discipline, just like his Angel teammates have been known for around the league.
Kendrick, at 26, is just months older than his double play turning teammate. Howie is a career .294 hitter, hitting only .247 this year, but he is slowly but surely raising his average as he is batting .317 in July.
As a fan I can tell the only thing Kendrick cares about is winning. If the Angels keep doing just that, they might not need to shake things up at the deadline. Kendrick is an old school player who runs everything out, plays great defense at the four-hole and when healthy swings a very good bat.
He even wears his socks up like his shortstop teammate.
Earlier this year Kendrick was sent down to AAA Salt Lake to improve his swing. In 20 games Kendrick was batting .346 before getting called back up to the Angels. Kendrick has hit safely in nine of 11 games, scoring eight runs and plating eight since being recalled.
Howie has been gaining more confidence at the plate recently and hitting a homer in Wednesday's come-from-behind win at Kansas City won't hurt it either. Kendrick who also drew a walk yesterday, was playing DH with Maicer Izturis taking his hot bat to second.
With the Angels big-bats either on the DL or out of the lineup, many players have been stepping up in big moments in the absence of Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Rivera and All-Star Torii Hunter.
If this Angels team continues hitting well, this could be a scary team come September, and could walk away with yet another American League West Division Championship. Lead by their two young athletes up the middle, that goal will only get easier when the three power bats return, but only the future can tell and that's something we should all look forward to.
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