Hitting .311 overall with a .385 on-base percentage this season, Kendrick has drawn 19 walks in 206 plate appearances. He took 23 free passes last season in 513 plate appearances.
"Howie's off to a good start in the batter's box," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who has been mixing and matching at the top of the order during the recent absence of Kole Calhoun. "He's seeing the ball well, starting to draw some walks. The important thing with Howie is not really his walk rate; it's his ability to get a good pitch and square it up.
"He's definitely shown some plate discipline. Leading off, he's responded well to it. He's getting on base, hitting the ball hard. He's been really comfortable in the leadoff spot."
Kendrick is a .565 career hitter in 23 at-bats against Shields, with four doubles, a triple and a homer. One thing Kendrick doesn't want to change as a leadoff hitter is his ability to hammer a first pitch if it's in his happy zone. Putting first pitches in play 18 times this season, he's batting .556 with a .778 slugging percentage.
Kendrick has been most productive this season batting fifth. In 15 starts, he has a .397/.478/.500 line. Batting cleanup 16 times, he has produced two homers and 10 RBIs but his average is .258. He has hit sixth most often in his career, batting .309 with a .450 slugging percentage.
With nine steals (in 11 attempts), Kendrick is five shy of his career high for a season.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.