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Stock Watch: Rendon rediscovering his power stroke

Aug 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

Aug 25, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon (6) singles against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Each week this season, we’ll take the temperature of the Nationals roster to see whose stock is rising or falling.  

Record: 4-2

Team slash: .253/.367/.474

Team ERA: 3.23

Runs per game:  5.3


STOCK UP  

Anthony Rendon, 2B: .333 AVG/ 2 HR/ 5 RBI 

Ah, so this is the guy who finished fifth in NL MVP voting last year. For the first time all season, Rendon is finally showing what makes him one of the best infield bats in the NL. When he’s on, it puts pitchers in serious conflict: Should they challenge Rendon, or deal with Bryce Harper, who hits right behind him? It’s the scenario the Nats were hoping for much earlier in the season, but is only just coming to fruition right now.

Bryce Harper, RF: .375 AVG/ 1.153 OPS 

Speaking of Harper, has he ever gone into a slump this season? It doesn’t really feel like it, despite the rest of the lineup’s struggles. At 22, he’s been the steadying force for an offense that has had its issues for most of 2015. His NL MVP case might be hurt a bit by the team’s decline, with voters typically gravitating towards players on playoff clubs. But Harper’s numbers might be too good to deny, especially considering how they outpace other Nats hitters by a wide margin.

Wilson Ramos, C: .353 AVG/ 2 HR/ 1.215 OPS  

The good news for Ramos this season? He’s managed to stay healthy. The bad news? He’s yet to establish himself as one of the best power-hitting catchers in the game as some thought he could be. Not that he hasn’t been trying. He’s been efforting to rediscover his power stroke from earlier in his career (particularly 2011 and 2013), trying to figure out what was working well in those years compared to what he’s been doing lately. And if this past week is any indication, perhaps it’s starting to pay off. He’s hit home runs in back-to-back games — the first time he’s done that all season.

 

STOCK DOWN 

Gio Gonzalez, SP: 5.0 IP/ 0-1/ 7.20 ERA 

It seemed like Gio had a solid run for a while where he was quietly establishing himself one of the more consistent starters in the rotation. But after a recent rough patch — he’s 0-2 in his last two starts and has allowed 10 earned runs combined — he finds himself listed here. When Gonzalez is off, he exhibits the same old problems; he doesn’t throw his curve ball for strikes, he struggles to command the zone and he’s not particularly pitch efficient. As Nats fans know, this is not the time for anyone on the staff to have a hiccup. The margin for error for each game is razor thin, so the rotation has no choice but to be at its best the last few weeks of the season if the club hopes to play in October.

  1. Ellie - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    “with voters typically gravitating towards players on playoff teams.”

    The Diamondbacks are about as likely a playoff team as the Nats right now. And who else is even in contention for MVP besides Harper and Goldschmidt?

    • jfmii - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:21 PM

      Anthony Rizzo, Andrew McCutcheon, Adrian Gonzalez, Buster Posey

      • Ellie - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:24 PM

        Oh, crap, I forgot someone on the Giants was in the running. That probably means Harper won’t win it even if he hits a grand slam every AB for the rest of the season.

      • bowdenball - Aug 26, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        Giants are falling apart due to poor play and injuries, I bet we end up with a better records then them when all is said and done. So I don’t see Harper losing votes to Posey due to competitiveness.

        McCutchen is intriguing but his numbers are so far below Harper’s that it would probably be pushing the limits of common sense even for voters who prefer guys from playoff teams. Same is true of Adrian Gonzalez.

        I think Harper’s closest competitors are probably Rizzo and Zach Greinke.

        Hopefully the Nats can at least get themselves in a race that goes down to the final series and thus eliminate all doubt and debate.

  2. Steady Eddie - Aug 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM

    Chase, I realize you need to find something on the down side of the ledger but the way you wrote it was unfair to Gio because it I was completely lacking in context.

    First, other than Stras, none of the starters particularly distinguished himself on the West Coast trip so there’s no call to single Gio out for that Giants game.

    More importantly, the context for what happened in the Brewers game last Friday is crucial and your writeup mentions none of it. The Brewers’ first two runs were entirely the fault of sleepwalking Nats fielders. Segura got on only because of Rendon’s sloppy misplay, he got to second largely because of Loby’s airmailed throw, and scored on Lucroy’s double only because Werth completely blew the read on a very catchable ball. Lucroy only gets to third to score on Braun’s fly because of Loby’s passed ball. Obviously the 6 am arrival was mostly to blame for that inning but none of that inning is on Gio.

    Then in the fifth he gets slammed on the leg by Lucroy’s low liner and completely loses his command, giving up four consecutive liners (two for hits, one a sac fly) that lost the game. While those clearly are on Gio it’s not as if it’s a systematic problem with his pitching — he was injured.

    We’ll see tonight how he comes back from that but it really misses the boat to leave out that context.

    And by the way– neither of the two runners he walked scored.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 26, 2015 at 5:45 PM

      I believe Daniel Shiferaw, not Chase, wrote this post.

      Can be confusing, I know. The browser on my phone only shows me Chase’s byline for these.

  3. alexva6 - Aug 26, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    in answer to his question on Harper, his OPS for each month of the season is:

    .985
    1.379
    1.143
    1.015
    .914.

    his worst month would place in the top 5 in the league for the year.

  4. NIWatcher - Aug 26, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    Daniel, “efforting”? Really?

  5. NatsLady - Aug 26, 2015 at 2:35 PM

    The Cubs have won 21 of 25. If the Cubs can do it, we can do it. So let’s win 21 of 25 and go from there.

    • ArVAFan - Aug 26, 2015 at 3:02 PM

      From your mouth to the baseball gods’ (and the players!) ears!

  6. unkyd59 - Aug 26, 2015 at 2:43 PM

    I guess Stras’ stock is permanently up, now….😉

    Reposting, for some self-love……(I believe I had that…😉)
    ————–
    unkyd59 on August 4, 2015 at 7:24 pm
    Welcome back! Now get back in there and make Maxie the #2 Ace in this outfit!!! Light a spark under our butts!!
    GYFNGOGOGO!!!!!

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