The expectations for Howie Kendrick entering his age-35 season in 2019 weren't high. No one expected him to be an everyday contributor for the Nationals, let alone one come October. But here we are. The single most important offensive player on the National League postseason has been Kendrick and who in the world would've seen that coming back in the spring? 

It's not that Kendrick was a bad player coming into the year. That's not even remotely the case. Long one of the better batsmiths in the majors, he carries a career .294 batting average and hit .303 last season. At minimum Kendrick was expected to be a part-time bench bat.

Instead, Kendrick is the Nats' five-hole hitter, protecting Juan Soto and MVP candidate Anthony Rendon. Kendrick slashed .344/.395/.572 this season, setting -- and shattering, in some cases -- career highs across the board. 

He's kept it going this postseason, too. 

In perhaps the biggest hit in Nationals history, at the time, he hit a 10th-inning grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS to bury the 106-win Dodgers

In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Cardinals, he went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. His two-out single in the top of the seventh was the highest win probability added play of the game. 

And now we come to Game 3 of the NLCS, a win that likely puts the Nationals in the World Series

In the bottom of the third, Kendrick doubled home two: 

In the fifth, he doubled home another run: 

In the seventh, he doubled again

The three doubles in a game ties the league championship series record and there's more. Remember, he's in his age-35 season: 

So he joins two Hall of Famers and someone who should arguably be a Hall of Famer. That's some company. 

After his best offensive season, Kendrick is now hitting .314/.351/.514 in the postseason with the biggest hit in Nationals history and a game that's only been achieved by some of the better players in history. To reiterate, he was supposed to be a bench bat back in the spring. 

And the Nationals are one win away from the World Series. 

How funky and fickle and fun can you be, baseball?