Adam Kennedy has been a pleasant surprise for the Mariners this year, his 1.3 WAR second among Mariners position players. (No, not to Dustin Ackley, who is already at 0.8 WAR, which is awesome–and insane–for those who are wondering.) Kennedy has played good defense at each position he’s played by UZR–+0.5 at 1B, +0.7 at 2B, and +2.2 at 3B. He’s also brought a decent bat to the lineup, especially in today’s run environment. A .315 wOBA may not seem impressive, but Mariners fans know that is fantastic for a Mariner hitter.
Unfortunately, Adam Kennedy is simply not an everyday answer at any position on the diamond. Already 35-years-old, it would be foolish to assume that Kennedy will continue producing at his career averages, especially considering that Safeco Field is his home ballpark. Kennedy’s wOBA’s the last five years have been .253, .305, .337, .303, and now .315 in 2011, so you could say that it is likely that Kennedy is over-performing his current talent level at age 35.
Looking into the month-by-month splits, Kennedy’s performance has declined with more consistent playing time. After posting a .761 OPS in April, that number dropped to .750 in May, and fell all the way to just .650 in June. It appears Kennedy’s just not fit to play every day anymore, as the falling OPS numbers correlate directly with increased playing time–66 plate appearances in April, 74 in May, and 89 in June.
It would be wise for the Mariners to try to rest Kennedy a little more. While even a .650 OPS bat is pretty solid for this awful offense, it wouldn’t hurt to give his old man legs a little bit of a rest from time to time. Kennedy is still a valuable piece, and he will help the Mariners win ballgames, but he’s not an everyday player anymore. He’s certainly not a number three hitter, either. Kennedy needs to drop down to the sixth or seventh spot in the lineup, allowing the Mariners to put their best on-base threats in Ichiro, Ackley, Cust and Smoak together at the top of the lineup. Simply put, Kennedy needs more days off, and needs to be moved down in the lineup.