2019 playoff hero Kendrick calls it a career

December 22nd, 2020

The Major League career of a Nationals World Series hero has come to a close.

announced his retirement Monday night on Instagram following 15 seasons in the big leagues. The 37-year-old posted his decision with a photo of himself and his family holding the championship trophy.

“A dream that started as a 5 yr old boy in the town of Callahan, Florida,” Kendrick wrote. “I will be forever grateful for the many life lessons baseball has taught me on this 32 yr journey.”

Kendrick became a free agent this offseason after the Nationals declined their portion of the 2021 mutual option on his contract. He had entered Spring Training in ‘20 planning for it to be his last year, but the shortened season led him to give his next move some extra consideration.

“I love baseball, I love the game,” Kendrick said in September, after ending the season on the injured list with a left hamstring strain. “That’s one of the toughest decisions you’re ever going to make.”

Kendrick’s career began when the Angels selected him in the 10th round of the 2002 June Draft. He played nine years with them -- earning an All-Star selection in ‘11 -- before spending the next two seasons with the Dodgers. From there, he was traded to the Phillies in ‘16, and then acquired by the Nationals on July 28, 2017. Kendrick clicked in Washington, and he re-signed with the Nats as a free agent in ‘18 and ‘19.

In his second-to-last season, Kendrick solidified his place in baseball history with clutch performances that powered the Nats to their first World Series title. After making a comeback from an Achilles injury in 2018, Kendrick hit a standout .344 in the '19 regular season. That was a sign of things to come in October.

Kendrick belted a go-ahead, 10th-inning grand slam in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers, and he was named the Most Valuable Player of the NLCS against the Cardinals. On the biggest stage, he clanged the go-ahead homer off the right-field foul pole in Game 7 of the World Series to help lift the Nats over the Astros for the ultimate prize.

“Last but not least, my Beloved Washington Nationals, thank you for embracing me as one of your own,” Kendrick wrote in his announcement. “I feel as though I’d been a National my whole career and the wild, humbling and crazy ride we had in 2019 truly culminated everything I’d learned in my career, and we all became World Champions.”

Kendrick concludes his career with a .294/.337/.430 slash line and .767 OPS. He tallied 1,747 hits, 724 RBIs and 127 home runs over 1,621 games (5,950 at-bats). Defensively, Kendrick had a .986 fielding percentage from games played at first, second and third base and in the outfield. Among all active players, he ranks eighth in singles (1,228) and assists (3,323).

“I will always love the game of baseball and will constantly reflect on the lifelong memories made,” Kendrick wrote. “For now, it’s time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of my life.”