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Jason Kendall

Baseball Digest All-Star Rookie Catcher 1996
Sporting News Rookie of the Year 1996
All-Star Selection 1996, 1998, 2000

Full Name: Jason Daniel Kendall
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: Jun 26, 1974 in San Diego, CA
Major League Debut: Apr 01, 1996

PHOTO
GALLERY


CAREER BATTING STATISTICS
 BATTING
YEAR TEAM AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K OBP SLG
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
.300
.294
.327
.332
.320
.266
.283
130
144
149
78
152
157
145
414
486
535
280
579
606
545
54
71
95
61
112
84
59
124
143
175
93
185
161
154
23
36
36
20
33
22
25
5
4
3
3
6
2
3
3
8
12
8
14
10
3
42
49
75
41
58
53
44
35
49
51
38
79
44
49
30
53
51
32
79
48
29
.372
.391
.411
.428
.412
.335
.350
.401
.434
.473
.511
.470
.358
.356
Totals AVG
.300
G
955
AB
3445
R
536
H
1035
2B
195
3B
26
HR
58
RBI
362
BB
345
K
322
OBP
.383
SLG
.423

 BATTINGBASERUNNINGMISC
YEAR TEAM HBP GDP TB IBB SH SF SB CS SB% AB/HR AB/K
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
15
31
31
12
15
20
9
7
11
6
8
13
18
11
166
211
253
143
272
217
194
11
2
3
3
3
4
1
3
1
2
0
1
0
0
4
5
8
4
4
2
2
5
18
26
22
22
13
15
2
6
5
3
12
14
8
.714
.750
.839
.880
.647
.481
.652
138.0
60.8
44.6
35.0
41.4
60.6
81.7
13.8
9.2
10.5
8.8
7.3
12.6
18.8
Totals HBP
133
GDP
74
TB
1456
IBB
27
SH
7
SF
29
SB
121
CS
50
SB%
.708
AB/HR
59.4
AB/K
10.7


CAREER FIELDING STATISTICS
YEAR TEAM POS G Ch PO A E DP PB FPCT
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2001
2001
2002
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
Pit
C
C
C
C
C
OF
OF
C
C
129
142
144
75
147
10
18
133
143
886
1066
1082
560
1081
20
33
803
871
797
952
1015
505
990
17
30
739
797
71
103
58
48
81
1
0
52
65
18
11
9
7
10
2
3
12
9
10
20
10
12
11
0
0
7
13
8
7
9
6
11
0
0
7
?
0.980
0.990
0.992
0.988
0.991
0.900
0.909
0.985
0.987
Totals G
940
Ch
6402
PO
5842
A
479
E
81
DP
85
PB
48+
FPCT
0.987


TEAM ABBREVIATION KEY
YEARS
1996-2002
TM
Pit
LG
NL
TEAM NAME
Pittsburgh Pirates
LEAGUE NAME
National League

Spirited, speedy Jason Kendall emerged in the late 1990s as one of the game's top catchers. A high school football player, he relishes contact, and often ranks among the league leaders in hit-by-pitches. Kendall's aggressive style of play and amiable personality has made him a popular player among his teammates and Pirates fans alike.

"Kid" Kendall batted an even .300 as a rookie for the Pirates in 1996, earning a berth on the All-Star Team and finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He broke the Pirates' record for hit-by-pitches with 15, only to shatter it the following year when he was plunked 31 times. He stole 18 bases in 1997, a record for Pirate catchers, and stole 26 bases the following year, breaking the NL record for catchers.

In his breakthrough season of 1998, Kendall batted .325 with 12 home runs and 95 runs scored, caught 40% of would-be base-stealers, and made the All-Star team for the second time. But it was his enthusiastic, tenacious style of play that earned him the admiration of players and coaches around the league. Affection for baseball ran in the family blood; his father was a catcher for the Padres in the 70s, and his mother used to hit him ground balls. "[Baseball]'s all I've known my whole life," said Kendall. "Baseball, baseball, baseball, ever since I was a pup."

Baseball may be Kendall's true love, but he knows a thing or two about a few other sports. He spends nearly every day each offseason surfing in Manhattan Beach, California, where his home is two blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. If he hadn't become a baseball player, he would have become a lifeguard. Kendall is also a big fan of professional wrestling fan-- "a soap opera for men," he says.

Kendall appeared to be headed for his best season yet in 1999, topping his career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging average. But on June 5, he endured a gruesome, season-ending injury. Trying to beat out a bunt, he caught his leg on the first-base bag and badly twisted his ankle. Kendall limped off the field with a bone jutting through his skin. Doctors were worried that he would never play again, let alone regain his speed.

Worries about Kendall's health were put to rest in 2000, when he was readmitted into the tiny fraternity of fleet-footed backstops by reaching double-digits in stolen bases for the fourth straight season.



Drafted:
Selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round (23rd pick overall) in the 1992 free agent draft.
Personal Information:
Single ... Tied a national high school record when he hit safely in 43 straight games (dating back to his junior year)
Son of former catcher, Fred Kendall, who spent 12 years in the majors with San Diego, Cleveland and Boston.

Career Notes
Spirited, speedy Jason Kendall emerged in the late 1990s as one of the game's top catchers. A high school football player, he relishes contact, and often ranks among the league leaders in hit-by-pitches. Kendall's aggressive style of play and amiable personality has made him a popular player among his teammates and Pirates fans alike.

"Kid" Kendall batted an even .300 as a rookie for the Pirates in 1996, earning a berth on the All-Star Team and finishing third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He broke the Pirates' record for hit-by-pitches with 15, only to shatter it the following year when he was plunked 31 times. He stole 18 bases in 1997, a record for Pirate catchers, and stole 26 bases the following year, breaking the NL record for catchers.

In his breakthrough season of 1998, Kendall batted .325 with 12 home runs and 95 runs scored, caught 40% of would-be base-stealers, and made the All-Star team for the second time. But it was his enthusiastic, tenacious style of play that earned him the admiration of players and coaches around the league. Affection for baseball ran in the family blood; his father was a catcher for the Padres in the 70s, and his mother used to hit him ground balls. "[Baseball]'s all I've known my whole life," said Kendall. "Baseball, baseball, baseball, ever since I was a pup."

Baseball may be Kendall's true love, but he knows a thing or two about a few other sports. He spends nearly every day each offseason surfing in Manhattan Beach, California, where his home is two blocks away from the Pacific Ocean. If he hadn't become a baseball player, he would have become a lifeguard. Kendall is also a big fan of professional wrestling fan-- "a soap opera for men," he says.

Kendall appeared to be headed for his best season yet in 1999, topping his career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging average. But on June 5, he endured a gruesome, season-ending injury. Trying to beat out a bunt, he caught his leg on the first-base bag and badly twisted his ankle. Kendall limped off the field with a bone jutting through his skin. Doctors were worried that he would never play again, let alone regain his speed.

Worries about Kendall's health were put to rest in 2000, when he was readmitted into the tiny fraternity of fleet-footed backstops by reaching double-digits in stolen bases for the fourth straight season.


Biography
Jason played through a painful thumb injury in 2001, but would you expect anything less from one of the game's toughest competitors? He saw action in a career-high 157 games, making 127 starts at catcher, 18 in left field and nine in right field. Jason also collected the first Pirate hit at PNC Park when he singled off Chris Reitsma of the Cincinnati Reds.

Jason authored quite a comeback story in 2000 as he led the Pirates in batting (.320), runs (112), hits (185) and stolen bases (22). He also made a career-high 145 starts behind the plate, just one year after suffering a season-ending dislocation of his right ankle. The gruesome injury, which occurred on July 4, 1999, was considered career-threatening at the time. Jason worked extremely hard to come back, though, and his efforts were rewarded with a starting berth in the 2000 All-Star Game. Replacing the injured Mike Piazza, Jason became the first Pirate catcher to start in the midseason classic since Smoky Burgess in 1961.

The son of former major-league catcher Fred Kendall, Jason didn't lose any speed after the injury. That was evident in 2000 when he became the first backstop in ML history to steal 20-or-more bases in three seasons. Jason is a line-drive hitter who rips the ball to all fields. In five big-league seasons prior to 2001, he never hit less than .294. Behind the plate, he's very good at blocking balls in the dirt and is more than adept at throwing out would-be base stealers. Jason's gritty, blue-collar approach to the game has made him one of Pittsburgh's most popular athletes.


Jason Kendall came up short in his attempt to become the third catcher ever to win a National League batting title. His career-best .327 average was the best by a Pirate in a full season since Dave Parker hit a league-leading .334 in 1978. Kendall also was hit by 31 pitches, which led the NL and tied his own club record set in 1997. He also established career highs in runs, homers and RBI.


Hitting
Kendall is an intelligent hitter. He never tries to do too much and is able to handle all types of pitches with his compact stroke, which produces plenty of line drives. He has shown the ability to hit for average at a young age, batting .300 or better in two of his first three seasons. He has started to add power to his game, learning he can occasionally pull hanging breaking balls over the fence.


Baserunning & Defense
A testament to Kendall's above-average speed is his 26 steals last season, an NL record for catchers. He not only has good speed, he knows how to use it. On a club that is horrible on the basepaths, he rarely makes a mistake. Kendall has only an average arm behind the plate and can be run on. However, he's an excellent handler of pitchers and extremely mobile behind the plate. He has few equals at blocking balls in the dirt.


Notes
Finished third in the National League Rookie-of-the-Year voting by the BBWAA, behind Los Angeles' Todd Hollandsworth and Florida's Edgar Renteria ... Set a club-record by being hit by a pitch 15 times ... It was the most HBP's by a catcher in a single season in N.L. history ... Made 118 starts behind the plate ... Became only the fifth rookie catcher to be named to the All-Star team, joining Johnny Bench (1968), Gary Carter (1975), Greg Olson (1990) and Mike Piazza (1993) ... Went 3-for-4 with an RBI-single in his debut Opening Day against the Marlins.


Articles:
Paul White writing in Baseball Weekly about Jason. [Click to Read]
Chuck Finder story in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Jason and his father Fred. [Click to Read]