Kendrick on fire since returning from minors

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Last night the Angels bounced back from Wednesday’s umpire-aided loss to the Red Sox, picking up a one-run win at Fenway Park thanks in large part to Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick homered off Josh Beckett early and then delivered a go-ahead single off Billy Wagner late, with embattled closer Brian Fuentes getting the final two outs for his MLB-leading 42nd save.
After hitting just .231/.281/.355 through 51 games Kendrick was demoted to Triple-A in mid-June despite being four seasons into his big-league career. He went 27-for-78 (.346) in 20 games at Triple-A, which is no surprise given his lifetime .360 batting average in 399 games as a minor leaguer, and has stayed hot since rejoining the Angels in July.
Kendrick is 58-for-153 (.379) with five homers and 11 doubles in 44 games since returning to the majors, bringing his batting average all the way up to .298. And despite managing just 21 homers and 40 non-intentional walks in 347 career games, Kendrick has shown that his amazing batting averages in the minors were no fluke by hitting .304 in 1,359 plate appearances.
Here’s the complete list of all the second basemen in baseball history with a higher batting average then Kendrick through the age of 25: Eddie Collins, Tony Lazzeri, Billy Herman, Dustin Pedroia, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer. That’s it, six guys. Five of them are in the Hall of Fame and the only one who isn’t was last season’s AL MVP.
Problems staying healthy and a lack of power or plate discipline makes it unlikely that Kendrick truly belongs in that company, but he has an awfully unique skill set that makes him one of the most interesting hitters in baseball to watch and has come up very big for the Angels in the second half.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.