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Roster review: Anthony Rendon

Oct 16, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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Age on Opening Day 2016: 25

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2011 draft

MLB service time: 2 year, 130 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $2.5 million

Contract status: Possibly Super-2 arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2020.

2015 stats: 80 G, 355 PA, 43 R, 82 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB, 36 BB, 70 SO, .264 AVG, .344 OBP, .363 SLG, .707 OPS, 4 E, 3.6 UZR (at 3B), -1.8 UZR (at 2B), 0.3 WAR

Quotable: “Anthony will be good. It’s just a question of a few days.” — Matt Williams, March 13, on Anthony Rendon’s knee injury. Rendon didn’t make his season debut until June 4.

2015 analysis: On the heels of a breakthrough season that saw him finish fifth in NL MVP voting, expectations were sky-high for Rendon. Then a seemingly innocuous knee injury suffered in spring training completely derailed him for 2015. What eventually was diagnosed as a sprained MCL sidelined Rendon until early June (an oblique strain suffered during his rehab assignment helped delay his return) and then only three weeks later he landed back on the DL with a quadriceps strain.

Rendon never did find a consistent groove, vacillating between a hot couple of weeks and then a slump. He was hitting .289 on September 16 but then went 9 for his last 58 to see his season-ending numbers slide a considerable amount.

Rendon’s year didn’t go according to plan in more ways than one. After bouncing between second and third bases in 2014, he figured to settle in as the everyday third baseman in 2015. But his spring training injury prompted the Nationals to move Yunel Escobar to the hot corner, and by the time Rendon was healthy the club didn’t want to make another change. So he wound up starting 59 games at second base, only 19 at third base.

2016 outlook: The rose has come off the bloom somewhat after this disappointing season, but there’s still no denying Rendon’s ability to be one of the best all-around players in baseball. But he’ll need to avoid the nagging injuries that prevented him from finding any level of consistency this year.

The Nationals acknowledged Rendon should be their regular third baseman in 2016, so that move should be permanent. It also should be beneficial to both the individual and the team. Rendon is far better defensively at third base than second base, and perhaps the mere knowledge he’ll be able to stay at his natural position will allow him to focus more on his offensive performance.

The Nats’ new manager also would be wise not to use Rendon out of the leadoff spot. Matt Williams didn’t have much choice late this season, but Rendon’s skills just don’t translate all that well to the No. 1 spot in the lineup. A full season batting second seems to be best for him and the Nationals.

One other thing to watch this winter: Rendon’s contract status. Though he has fewer than three years of big-league service time, he may have accrued just enough to qualify for arbitration as a “Super-2” player. (MLBtraderumors.com projects the Super-2 cutoff to be at 2 years, 130 days, which is exactly where Rendon currently stands.) If he qualifies, Rendon could see his salary spike, though regardless he still won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season.

  1. acsportsfn - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Rick Suttcliff said on the radio broadcast the other day that the last 6 WS winners did not make the playoffs the year before. There’s a 75 % chance this year..Nats fans…THERE IS HOPE!

  2. JayB - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    perhaps the most disappointing part of 2015 players. I am a big fan and love the way he played in the past. He is a happy go lucky guy but not this past year. He looked tight and unhappy most of the time. He looked like he was forcing his act at times. Something changed for him and Nats need to do some digging to make sure he is worth the cost going forward in out years. Talking to some contacts from his Rice days would be smart. He does not look the same to me.

    • TimDz - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      The guy was injured most of the season and probably was never completely healthy. It’s kind of hard to be happy go lucky when you are being paid to perform and you cannot due to a bunch of injuries….

    • ArVAFan - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:34 AM

      I expect that “doesn’t look the same” may be triggered by:

      1. frustration at the lingering injury from a meaningless Spring Training game (remember flying all over the country getting opinions?)
      2. having to play somewhere other than 3rd base because of #1
      3. a second injury delaying his return from the first injury
      4. a third injury just when he thought things were stabilizing, further reinforcing his reputation as “oft-injured”

      I only spoke with him once during the season, during one of the “good” windows, if you will. Short conversation, but he seemed to me to be the Ant we’d known. If he can play third base and stay reasonably healthy, 2016 could look a lot like 2014 instead of 2015. Having said that, he might want to make a few offerings to the baseball gods so he doesn’t end up with some weird injury like tripping over a bat weight in the on-deck circle.

  3. alexva6 - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    Werth/Zimm/Rendon – wasted years with only periodic flashes of their abilities.

    Rendon has to be a third every game he plays. if he doesn’t stay healthy they will have to think twice before trying to lock him up. otherwise he is a perennial all-star.

  4. janebeard - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    This is NOT about Anthony Rendon. But Jonathan Papelbon has moved lock, stock and barrel out of the new $2.3 million house he just moved into. It was next door to the son of our seatmates. The house wasn’t for sale when the Papelbons found it; they went to the door and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, and they moved in near Labor Day. Moved out this past weekend. Down to the welcome mat.

    I’d say he knows he ain’t coming back. Which makes me very happy.

    • jfmii - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:22 AM

      Wow, that is great news for humanity, though bad news for an already thin pen

      • natsguy - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:34 AM

        He was subtraction by addition.

    • ArVAFan - Oct 16, 2015 at 10:00 AM

      That made my day. Going to work with a smile.

    • sunshinebobby - Oct 16, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      Great scoop, Jane. You just made my day. And Harp’s to be sure.

    • natsfan1a - Oct 17, 2015 at 9:15 AM

      Thanks much for the report from the ground, jane. Hope that he’ll be sent packing from the team as well.

  5. rgsie - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:15 AM

    Every time I read a review about a player I am reminded how many long term injuries this team had in 2015. Matt Williams never stood a chance.

    • Doc - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:29 AM

      MW did well with the position players that he was left with. It was the pitchers that let him down. The hitters were scoring more runs than the Mets at one point.

      Next manager’s challenge will be to put the pitchers back on track, particularly the bullpen.

      • Dave - Oct 16, 2015 at 10:09 AM

        Bud Black, please.

      • infideljack - Oct 16, 2015 at 11:11 AM

        Things went downhill when the regulars came back. We were in 1st place until then.

  6. joemktg - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:28 AM

    Extend Rendon. He’s a foundational piece.

    • Doc - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:30 AM

      +1

    • veejh - Oct 16, 2015 at 10:23 AM

      We need to make sure he’s durable. We don’t need any more fragile players on our roster.

  7. ArVAFan - Oct 16, 2015 at 10:23 AM

    Is it just me (non-statistical personal observation to follow), or did Anthony take a lot of called third strikes near the end of the year?

    • Section 222 - Oct 16, 2015 at 5:42 PM

      According to the stats I could find, Rendon’s K rate was up this year, but his pitch recognition skills were also improved. Maybe he was taking a lot of third strikes that were actually balls. 😉

  8. exposremains - Oct 16, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    Well the Mets achieve more this year than the can’t miss Nats window of the past 4 year. So thats why I have my reservation on calling Rizzo a genius.

    • NatsLady - Oct 16, 2015 at 12:11 PM

      The Dodgers had a $300+ million payroll. They had Kershaw and Greinke for 4-of-5 games. They had home field. No geniuses in their front office either, I guess.

      • adcwonk - Oct 16, 2015 at 1:39 PM

        +300 MM 😉

      • sec112 - Oct 16, 2015 at 2:11 PM

        And they had the advantage of a bogus call handing them a game . . .

      • npb99 - Oct 16, 2015 at 4:27 PM

        Yes, NatsLady, but this Dodgers team has at least once advanced to NLCS, even if they came up short the other years.

      • therealjohnc - Oct 16, 2015 at 7:56 PM

        Three quarters of a BILLION dollars in three years, one trip to the NLCS, no WS appearances much less a victory.

        Yep, that Stan Kasten … geenyus!

      • natsfan1a - Oct 17, 2015 at 9:16 AM

        Yes, as I was saying to my tv set the other night: Good job, Stan.

        “Yep, that Stan Kasten … geenyus!”

  9. langleyclub - Oct 16, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    All-in for Rendon.

    He has to play 3rd, and keeping fingers crossed that he stays healthy.

    Unlike the most of the Nats’ regulars, he makes contact (he did have a strikeout slump at season’s end) and can run a little. Harper and Rendon have the chance to be a devastating #2 and #3 combo in the lineup.

  10. edbrinkman - Oct 16, 2015 at 12:26 PM

    Yep, staying healthy and in the lineup is key for Rendon and the Nats success.

  11. NatsLady - Oct 16, 2015 at 12:33 PM

    The Nationals have received permission from the Giants to interview bench coach Ron Wotus to fill their managerial vacancy. Wotus has coached on the Giants’ Major League staff for the past 17 seasons and is a two-time Minor League Manager of the Year.

    http://natsinsider.com/2015/10/16/roster-review-anthony-rendon-4/comment-page-1/#comment-446049

  12. bigcat492 - Oct 16, 2015 at 12:56 PM

    Rendon’s season was a nightmare cause he came to camp overweight and outa shape

    I have always questioned his love of the game.

    • npb99 - Oct 16, 2015 at 1:06 PM

      That sounds harsh, but I agree there may be room for improvement in his conditioning regime. Same applies to some other Nats as well.

    • langleyclub - Oct 16, 2015 at 3:32 PM

      I didn’t think that he came into camp overweight and out of shape. According to articles published prior to Spring Training, Rendon had a rigorous pre-spring training regime where he set a bunch of personal strength and conditioning records working out regularly in Houston. He hurt his knee early in spring training laying out for a ground ball. Have not heard and did not see any evidence that injury was even minimally attributable to his weight or his conditioning.

      Why not make up another story?

      Is it your questioning of his love of the game that caused you to think that his injury was somehow attributable to being out of shape?

  13. texnat1 - Oct 16, 2015 at 1:29 PM

    I’d like to see Rendon spend the off season getting stronger. He hits a lot of hard hit fly balls that don’t quite get out and sometimes hang up just enough to be outs.

  14. Section 222 - Oct 16, 2015 at 1:53 PM

    I have a whole lot more confidence that TTB will return to his 2014 form than that Jayson Werth or even Ryan Zimmerman will return to theirs. He’s a young guy, and I’m not buying the idea that he’s injury prone. That knee injury that really set him back came in the first days of spring training and was kind of a fluke.

    I also don’t buy that having to play 2B had an impact on his hitting. He’s a guy who loves to hit and doesn’t care where he plays. That said, I fully endorse doing everything we can to make sure he plays 3B only next year. Not to help his hitting but because he’s a darn good third baseman.

  15. ogremj - Oct 16, 2015 at 2:12 PM

    Rendon’s general air of indifference in 2014 was easy to shrug off. In 2015, it was troubling.

    • infideljack - Oct 16, 2015 at 4:59 PM

      If you mean yawning duraing an AB, that was to psyche the pitcher. He did that a lot with 2 strikes.

  16. thewerthwhisperer - Oct 16, 2015 at 3:55 PM

    Rendon story – my wife and I went to spring training, and as he was ending his day with the rest of the team, he walked passed us and we asked from an autograph. As he signed I said to him, “You know, you’re even better looking up close than from the stands.” Without looking up at us he replied deadpan, “Hey, watch it.”

    Hoping for a comeback year from my favorite Nat.

  17. bigcat492 - Oct 16, 2015 at 5:38 PM

    Seems like Boz has questioned his conditioning also , and his competitiveness.

    What would you say about a youngster freshly out of college who has made the bigs, but in the off season when his friends come over they are not allowed to talk baseball in the home. That you can only talk about and play video games. We need to dump this guy while there is some value left.

    • NatsLady - Oct 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

      I don’t know what you do for a living, but I can tell you that I NEVER wanted to discuss work when I wasn’t working and I was tops in my field.

    • NatsLady - Oct 16, 2015 at 5:56 PM

      If I understand correctly, he didn’t come to spring training out of shape, he came back from his injury not in his best “playing shape.” He said so himself. Said it would take him a while. If I recall, it was speculated that he couldn’t work out the way he was accustomed to with the injury, which is hardly surprising.

      I don’t know how you know if someone is “competitive” short of his banging his thumb in his locker, or hitting himself with a bat in the hallway. Rendon isn’t demonstrative in that way, but I don’t fault him on that count.

  18. bigcat492 - Oct 16, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Ok Ok Nats lady. All I know is that on about the second or third day or spring training the Wash Post had a picture of him and he looked like John Beluchi. Then he dove for a ball at 3b and banged his knee. Not twisted…banged. His prognosis was day to day. Then, 3 months later he returns and immediately pulls an oblique. oops, out another month or so. Tellin you, there is something wrong here. So take down that big Rendon poster you have on your wall and smell the coffee!

  19. sunshinebobby - Oct 16, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    If Rendon plays third, what do we do with Escobar? He can’t possibly play short at his age?

    With Espinosa at second and Trea Turner at short (or vice versa), is Esci the odd man out?

    • infideljack - Oct 16, 2015 at 7:35 PM

      Espinosa is the SS, Rendon is 3rd base, so Yunel either learns 2nd or we trade him for value to AL team that can use him as a DH. I hope he can play 2nd so we can park Trea Turner in Syracuse until we send an infielder to the DL. Escobar was horrible at third and he does not have the ange needed at SS or 3rd. Trea Turner does not have the arm for SS. He is an emegency replacement at SS if Rendon goes down and we have to move Espinosa to 3rd. The Good news is we have Difo and Bostick in reserve. Bostick may be the power hitting SS of the future. We got him and a a pitcher (de los Santos) for Detwiler. Kind of like spinning straw into gold.

      • veejh - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:22 PM

        Escobar DH in the AL? No way, not enough pop.

      • sec112 - Oct 16, 2015 at 9:22 PM

        No way is Espinosa a full season regular. Not gonna happen with the Nats.

  20. JayB - Oct 16, 2015 at 8:23 PM

    +1 that is correct the T

  21. dcphanatic - Oct 17, 2015 at 2:16 PM

    When the Nats drafted Rendon, he had slipped a few notches in the draft because of health issues. As a matter of fact he was injured at the time he was drafted. In his first season in the minors, early in the season he broke an anchor and missed the season. On his rookie season he was relatively healthy and on 2014 he was as healthy as a major league player can be considering the wear and tear of MLB long season. What worries me are those little innocuous nagging injuries that seem to plague him. It was incomprehensible to see him flying all over the country trying to get a second or third opinion on his knee. Some players are like that. Their bodies do not recover fast nor well. And some players have to be 120% before they get into the field again and that is an impossibility. That is my question. Which one is him?

  22. senators5 - Oct 19, 2015 at 12:39 AM

    Totally agree with you. Rendon had a serious ankle injury while at Rice and the injury bug has continued to the present, which only compounds the problem with a lineup with Werth and RZ. I know all teams have injury problems, but it would be nice to see a group that can stay healthy on the field and, of course, in the BP. as well.

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