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Roster review: Anthony Rendon

Oct 12, 2013, 6:00 AM EST

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Age on Opening Day 2014: 23

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2011 draft

MLB service time: 130 days

2013 salary+bonuses: $1.8 million

Contract status: Signed for $1.8 million in 2014, club option for 2015, likely Super-2 arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2020.

2013 Stats: 98 G, 394 PA, 40 R, 93 H, 23 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, 31 BB, 69 SO, .265 AVG, .329 OBP, .396 SLG, .725 OPS, 9 E, 3.4 UZR (at 2B), -2.3 UZR (at 3B), 1.5 WAR

Quotable: “Rendon has played remarkably well at that position for a guy who is learning defensively at the major-league level and trying to hit for the first time at the major-league level. Compound that with that he’s played more games than he’s ever played in his career, and he’s had a remarkable rookie season.” — General manager Mike Rizzo

2013 analysis: The Nationals didn’t intend to promote their top prospect — or install him as their everyday second baseman — quite so soon, but Danny Espinosa’s massive struggles forced the issue. Rendon made his major-league debut April 21 (actually, when Ryan Zimmerman landed on the DL) and though he returned to Class AAA Syracuse two weeks later, he was back in Washington on June 5 and never returned.

A highly advanced hitter despite his lack of experience, Rendon burst onto the scene and hit .354 with a .402 on-base percentage and 10 doubles in his first 26 games. But, as is always the case with rookies, opposing pitchers began to figure him out and make life more difficult. Rendon had to battle his way the rest of the season, hitting just .230 with a .302 on-base percentage over his final 72 games.

Throughout it all, the natural third baseman had to learn how to play a big-league-caliber second base on the fly. There were some bumps in the road, but all things considered, he more than held his own at his new position and left no reason to doubt he can make it long-term as a middle infielder.

2014 outlook: The Nationals threw a lot at Rendon in his rookie season, which also happened to be his first, full, healthy season as a professional. He wore down both physically and mentally by the end, but the experience certainly will do him well.

Though the club won’t go all-out and say the second base job is his without at least some competition from Espinosa and Steve Lombardozzi, let’s be honest: The job is Rendon’s unless something very strange happens. He should arrive in Viera well-rested and with an opportunity to spend the entire camp refining his skills at second base (which aren’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination).

The book on Rendon is out, and he’ll have to show he can make the adjustments. But he’s too talented a hitter and too smart of a ballplayer to fail. Look for him to take some big strides next season, hit for a high average, draw a fair share of walks and rack up doubles with his gap-to-gap power stroke.

  1. Candide - Oct 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Throughout it all, the natural third baseman had to learn how to play a big-league-caliber second base on the fly.

    Lesson 1: Don’t throw with your eyes closed.

    • Joe Seamhead - Oct 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Nah, that was lesson #2. Lesson #1 was to wear shades when it’s sunny out.

  2. Doc - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    While ARen is continuing his adaptation to opposing throwers, the pitchers will be adapting to one of the smoothest right-handed swings in baseball. Eventually Anthony wins!!

  3. rogieshan - Oct 12, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    I like Rendon a lot, his versatility in the infield is tremendous to have, but I can’t help but think he’s another young player with a high ceiling Rizzo is willing to deal for a bigger, proven piece (e.g. a package for David Price).

  4. sjm308 - Oct 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    I like lots of things about him from a talent standpoint but I really like that he smiles a bunch during games. I honestly think he is happy playing baseball. How can you not like that.

    • Candide - Oct 12, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      I like it for the most part.Pitchers excepted. I want the guy on the mound to give off an aura of being a little bit annoyed and a little bit crazy.

      Unless they throw a hook like Gio does. Who can blame him for smiling when a guy takes a strike right at the knees, that was at his eyebrows just a few feet before?

  5. ArVAFan - Oct 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    I was lucky enough to be in Cleveland when he hit his first major league home run (right after he hit a foul pop that fell between three Cleveland guys, all of whom forgot to say “I got it”.) It broke a six-all tie after Chad Tracy had homered to tie it in the top of the ninth. We were sitting right behind the visitor’s dugout, so we got a close look at him as he rounded the bases, and returned to the dugout with a smile that could have lit up the stadium. Of course, the place was totally silent except for me and about 87 other traveling Nats fans who were cheering him on. Certainly one of my best baseball moments of the 2013 season.





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