Phillies Player Review: Kyle Kendrick – Phillies Nation
2012 Player Reviews

Phillies Player Review: Kyle Kendrick


Kyle Kendrick is perhaps the most underrated player on the Phillies roster. You’ve heard the narrative surrounding him: year in and year out, he fills multiple roles for the pitching staff, usually doing a satisfactory job, and some nights doing a fantastic job, yet he still is the target of fan vitriol.

This season was perhaps the biggest indication of that, as Kendrick put together an above average year, appearing in 37 games and starting 25 of them. But he was still frequently made out to be a goat in the eyes of many fans. I believe the biggest reason Kendrick draws ire from the fans is his inconsistency. Sometimes he can look really, really bad. He was once again marred by an inability to achieve predictability in 2012.

Observe: Kendrick managed to put together two separate scoreless streaks of twenty innings or more during the season. They were number one and two for longest scoreless streaks by a Phillies pitcher in 2012. During those stretches, he was undeniably the team’s best pitcher. Furthermore, he posted ERAs of 2.89 and 2.95 during the months of May and August, respectively. At times, he looked elite. But–and with Kendrick there’s always a but–he also struggled down the stretch, when the team needed good starts as they fought to stay afloat in the race for the second wild card. His ERA from September 15 to the end of the season was a robust 6.59. On top of that, he posted an ERA near seven in both April and June. As usual, Kendrick played the role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personified.

Despite his inability to churn out positive results on the regular, the final numbers aren’t too shabby for KK. Among pitchers with at least 30 innings of work, Kendrick’s ERA of 3.90 was sixth best on the team, ahead of the likes of Vance Worley, Roy Halladay and Antonio Bastardo (although two of those three dealt with injury). He also posted a career-high in strikeouts per nine innings with 6.55 mark. Despite a high ERA in the second half of September, he finished with an overall second-half ERA of 2.87, with most of those innings coming while Kendrick was in the rotation.

The advanced metrics aren’t quite as kind to Kendrick, however. Fangraphs lists his FIP at 4.32 and his xFIP at 4.31. According to their calculations, he was good for 1.2 WAR (it should be noted that that number is double the amount of WAR Kendrick posted in any year from 2008-2011).

I believe the biggest question, though, is whether Kendrick was worth the money he was being paid or not. These things are always magnified following a contract extension, which Kendrick received during the offseason. That extension paid Kendrick $3M this season. Fangraphs says his play was worth about $5.6M. All things considered, it was a shrewd move for Ruben Amaro and the front office, as Kendrick proved to be a cheap but effective member of the roster.

At the moment, KK is earmarked to be the number five starter next year. If he could repeat his 2012 performance, he would be arguably one of the best number fives in baseball.

Grade: B

Read the rest of the 2012 Phillies Player Reviews here.

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  1. Ken Bland

    October 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    So let’s say I’m a teacher, and commissioned with grading this class of 30, and have some self respect toward giving the “right” grade. Think my strategy would be to grade the other 29, and hope Ma and Pa Kendrick don’t notice no report card arrived on report card day. Whatever grade you give KK, you’re gonna see the spectrum of the grading system evidenced within the short term. Boy is terrific, then he sucks. Then he’s average. And the cycle repeats. And you feel like a fool salivatine over his shutout Cardinal 94 pitch game when he gets banged for 5 in th first against the Buccos, and claims he gave his mates a chance to win by settleing down. You’d almost sell your soul to the devil to see him embark on a solid C season than one with A’s and F’s all over that conclude with somewhere in the middle, though admittedly bettere than that by a respectable amount.

  2. Bob in Bucks

    October 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Grades are silly without some guidelines. I like better the question of whether someone is worth the money they are being paid. Especially since that is how I look at things. If Kendrick had Lee’s contract he would be horrible. But at his current contract he is a very good value. He can be a starter almost anywhere. He has to work hard to maintain his concentration but I like what I see in terms of longer stretches of very good pitching interrupted by a bad start or two. He is a keeper for the money. Certainly when you consider Blanton was getting $10 million!

    • Ken Bland

      October 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      One would do well to remember that Blanton had reached a stage of his career where he was arbitration eligible, and that process was negated by agreeing before an arbitrator got involved.
      Suffice to say it will be interesting what happens when Kendrick reaches that point, and whether the Phils hang onto him then. I wouldn’t wquickly rule it out, but his salary should REALLY escalate then.

      • George

        October 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

        Kendrick has already reached his arbitration years. The Phils signed him at that point for two years. I don’t know what his status is after 2013; he may have another arb year left, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

        Not many people liked his contract at the time, believing he wasn’t worth it.

      • Ken Bland

        October 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

        At first, George, after reading your comment, I was thinking you were right, but I checked it, and I actually think my mention was correct. Looks like he’s arb eligible in 2014, and eligible for free agency in ’15. I have long thought they paid him more than seemed necessary, but actually had written that maybe they should sign him to a 2 year deal befor5e they did because for whatever reasion, it seemed obvious they like him. So if I’m correct on him still being pre arb, the bennie of signing him for 2 years wasn’t to avoid arb, just to establish cost certainty.

        Still not 100 per cent sure I’m right on the arb eligibility, at the risk of making a mountain out of a mole hill, I’ll take a correction if I am indeed wriong.

      • George

        October 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm

        Kendrick is arb eligible in 2014, a free agent after that. That means he has only one more year left, so some of his years of eligibility were covered with his current contract. (A player gets three years, except Super Twos, who get four years.)

        I believe the front office probably wished to avoid an arbitration hearing, AND guarantee cost certainty.

        In any case, the issue will never be more than a molehill.


    October 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Kendrick was a star the second half of the season. I prefer to think that he will improve next season and hope he stays healthy. Most teams in baseball would love to have this guy. He is no superstar, but he could become a star. Hopefully.

  4. Betasigmadeltashag

    October 27, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I know he gets bashed a lot but once his roll was set as a starter he did veryy well for a 4-5 starter. If Vance can recoveri haveno problem with a rotation of Cole Doc Lee KK Worley. I put those 5 top to bottom against any rotation in the league

  5. George

    October 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Kendrick was much more consistent at the end of the season, which has to be looked at as a positive sign. He’s also not he’s not all that old, yet.

    However, I would certainly hope the phils add some starting depth in case the early season Kendrick shows up, or if someone else gets injured.

  6. brooks

    October 28, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Crazy, as unpredictable as my teenage grand daughter – sometimes his performance was as is now deemed “the standard” for a good outing where we see 6 innings, 3 runs (or less hits/walks do not matter), sometimes we saw stellar performances and then we saw the stench that quite a few of us have known he is perfectly capable of. The important thing is that his “good” (to stellar) appearances were more frequent than his shellackings.

    But, and this is important – when he was relegated to the pen (whether necessity or ineptitude) he also performed stellar on occasions.

    Look at his stretch in July (when he was last used out of the pen) – he pitched in 8 games, and started only one time:
    15 ip 8 hits, 0 runs 13 ks
    In August, he started 6 games and was 4-1
    36.2 ip 31 hits 12 runs 25 ks – for a 2.91 ERA as a matter of fact, his first 2 starts in August he got rocked – if you take those messes out of the equation for the remainder of August he had an ERA that was Lee like, a very credible 1.23 ERA

    Where is he better?
    He came out of the bullpen 12 times – perhaps you judge or grade his performance differently than I do but, if he gives up a single run, a relief pitcher has not done his job.
    In 9 of those appearances he gave up 0 runs. But, also factor in the games in which the reliever gives up the tying or go ahead run (allowed inherited runners to score) – I was surprised to learn that in each of his BP appearances where he was not charged with a run, he also did not allow an inherited runner to score (close on a few occasions!).

    All in all, 12 BP appearances, 13.2 IP, 9 of those (for 11 innings) were perfect. The overall ERA for his BP stint was 4.77 which in large part was due to a vomit experienced on May 9th vs the Muts – Lee had kept the Mets at bay, leaving after 6 with a 2-2 tie when Kendrick came in and gave up 5 runs facing 9 batters (4 hits, a walk and HB).

    For KK’s starts – he started 25 games and gave up more than 3 runs 8 times. I think that is pretty darn acceptable for a 5th or even 4th starter – a 30% failure rate means a 70% success rate, true?

    Point – if we rate KK’s good starts (giving up 3 or less runs, I left out the 6 inning rule) he performed at a 68% success ratio.
    Coming out of the BP, giving up 0 runs his success ration was a tad better at 75%.

    His overall ERA as a starter was 3.84 – ink KK in as our 4th or 5th starter. Good enough for me and keep the B.

  7. Nina Hartley

    October 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    KK is valuable in that he is a decent starter. Phillies need to stockpile starters in case one of the big guys gets hurt.

  8. Bill

    October 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Congrats to J-Roll. It is a shame that Carlos Ruiz got injured or he probably would have beat out Molina for the GG at catcher. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and have another season like 2012 in 2013.

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