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Nationals Stock Watch: Rendon on the rise

Apr 9, 2014, 12:49 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

Record: 5-2
Team slash: .253/.319/.409
Team ERA: 2.25
Runs per game: 4.57

STOCK UP

Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B – 7 G, .407 BA, 11 H, 4 R, 3 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 1.037 OPS

If the season’s first week is any indication, the Nationals’ 23-year-old infielder might be starting to show why the team drafted him sixth overall in 2011 out of Rice. Through seven games, Rendon has posted a .407 average – highest of the everyday players – to go along with a home run and 8 RBIs. His approach at the plate seems night and day from a season ago, and looks like he has a chance to blossom now that he’s an everyday part of the lineup.

Adam LaRoche, 1B – 7 G, .348 BA, 8 H, 7 R, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 1.152 OPS

With this year expected to be a breakout campaign for some of the Nationals’ younger hitters (see above), it was easy to forget about what LaRoche can do. The veteran first baseman has started his season out strong, hitting .348 with a club-high 9 RBIs. If he can sustain this kind of performance while guys like Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman get back on track, look out.

Gio Gonzalez, SP – 2 GS, 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 12.0 IP, 11 SO, .150 BAA, 0.750 WHIP

The first week of the season, for the most part, has gone well for Nationals starting pitchers, with Gonzalez leading the way. He went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his first two starts of the year, lasting six innings each outing.  It’s early in the season, but it’d be a huge boon for the Nats if Gonzalez returns to his 2012 form.

Aaron Barrett, RP – 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, BB, 5 SO, 0.273 WHIP

How about this for a start to your major league career: Four relief appearances, 3.2 innings, zero runs allowed. That’s about as good as Barrett and the Nationals could hope for coming from a rookie reliever.  Though it’s not realistic to think he can keep this up over a long stretch, it’s still a sign that the Nats’ bullpen has a chance to have quality depth to go along with Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano.

STOCK DOWN

Stephen Strasburg, SP – 2 GS, 0-1, 6.10 ERA, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1.742 WHIP

Washington’s ace hasn’t had the start to the season that he nor the club envisioned, going 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two outings. One of his main issues so far? Pitch efficiency. Strasburg threw 102 pitches in six innings in the season opener against the Mets and 94 in 4.1 innings in his second start vs. the Braves.  He’ll have to consistently show he can go deep into games before he can truly cement his status as one of the game’s top aces.

Bryce Harper, LF – 6 G, .160 BA, 4 H, 2 R, 11 SO, BB, CS, .286 OPS

It’s early, but the team’s youngest and brightest star has yet to find his swing, as he posted a paltry .160 average to go along with 11 strikeouts through six games. Harper’s frustration at the dish was so evident that manager Matt Williams had to give him a day off Sunday against the Braves so that he could recharge.  One week does not a season make, of course, so it remains to be seen if Harper’s troubles will extend beyond this early rough patch.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B – 2 E, .818 fielding %

The Nationals’ third baseman isn’t listed here because of his early season plate production (.350/HR/3 RBI); he’s hitting well. But his nagging shoulder injury continues to be a story and appears as if it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s clearly affecting his throwing motion and accuracy from third base, and puts the manager – who doesn’t have the option of DHing him in the NL– in a tough spot.

Tyler Clippard, RP – 5 G, 3.86 ERA, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, HR, 1.500 WHIP

Clippard, who usually is one of the club’s most consistent relievers over the years, had a hiccup in the first game of the Braves series. He served up the go-ahead run late in the game and suffered his first loss of the season (for reference, he had only three losses all of last year).  He’s sporting a 3.86 ERA thru his first five appearances, but has plenty of time to return to form.

  1. Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Last night was a great start for Clip as far as getting back to form. The K to Baker was ~~~NASTY~~~

    • snerdblurter - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      I think that was the one where Lobaton tapped the dirt to tell him to bury the splitter and it worked absolutely perfectly. So awesome.

      Gotta be impressed with Lobaton behind the plate too. Seems to fit right in, in terms of game-calling and staff mgmt.

      • therealjohnc - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        It’s better than you think – that nasty spliter and strikeout were delivered to Giancarlo Stanton. I love the way Clippard threw the pitch and just started walking to the dugout.

      • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:06 PM

        Agreed re: Lobaton over all, as well as the call for and delivery of the splitter. Really, really impressive inning for them both.

  2. philipd763 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    All of the weight lifting and bulking up Harper did over the winter may be adversely impacting his swing at the plate. Plenty of players have lost their ability to hit when they became muscle bound. Just something to think about!

    • Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Hmmm…that’s something to think about.

  3. realdealnats - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Never nervous last year or this year when Rendon is at the plate–or in the field for that matter. If there are 2 on and 2 out, it never seems like he’s tight or worried. It just feels like he’ll see ball hit ball. Maybe to someone, or maybe the pitcher will strike him out in a rare case, but more often than not he has a chance move runners along.

    His senior year injuries at Rice were a blessing in disguise. Maybe he just has a different temperment, but I believe he never had to carry the psychological load that Stras and Bryce to. And he seems looser and healthier for it.

  4. lowstrikes - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Meanwhile, Lobaton is doing a hell of a job.

    • snerdblurter - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      +1

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:13 PM

        It is so nice seeing real good fundamental catchers. Nothing against Suzuki but he was far over-rated on his defense as it is much more than blocking balls in the dirt.

        #1 thing I look for in a catcher is where they set their glove at and then how they move that glove once the ball is released and when it crosses the plate. Pudge was a master at it and Ramos is as good as I’ve seen and Lobaton has been very good. Good game calling, good recognition, good blocking, good framing.

        Can’t ask for more. Rizzo picked wisely and if he starts hitting-BONUS!

  5. Doc - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    I don’t see a lot of difference between ARen’s “approach at the plate” from towards the end of last year, and his current stance.

    He opened up towards the end of last year, and placed his left foot less square to the plate, so he could see the ball better coming out of the pitcher’s hand.

    His swing is still the same level swing that the drafting scouts saw. Anthony is also a master at hitting on the top half of the ball, instead of upper cutting it.

    With a half year of experience, ARen also knows the pitchers better.

    I see him having a stats career much like Joey Votto.

    • bowdenball - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Joey Votto’s career slash line is .314/.419/.540.

      I love Rendon as much as anyone- but let’s not get carried away, folks. It’s seven games.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:01 PM

        thank you

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:27 PM

        Bowdenball is right, its early but never too early to know real talent. One of the many things I wrote about when Rendon was picked by the Nats was something that seemed trivial at the time is that the scouting on him is he won’t get flustered in 2 strike counts and you are now seeing that. He will work the pitcher back to the pitch he is waiting on. He does his homework and knows each pitchers repertoire.

        His problem last year was he faded due to conditioning. He looked tired in August and September. This year you are seeing the Rendon who was once projected as the overall #1 pick. He doesn’t look like an athlete in the sense of being a physical specimin like Bryce Harper but baseball players come in all shapes and sizes.

        Now for me I projected Rendon as a 2nd baseman right out of college but clearly he can play 3rd. He gives MW options for the infield formation.

      • Doc - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Pay attention sportsfans, it’s a prediction, not a reality.

        My prediction comes from watching him hit since his days in the AFL, going on 2 years ago, not just the freakin’ 7 games that he has played this year.

        Y’all need to look behind the current stats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:23 PM

    What about Storen?!

    If Barrett’s on the list, Storen needs to be, too.

    Contrast and compare:

    Aaron Barrett, RP – 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, BB, 5 SO, 0.273 WHIP
    Drew Storen, RP – 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, BB, 4 SO, 0.273 WHIP

    • adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      Slight correction — let me try again (edit feature??)

      Aaron Barrett, RP – 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0.273 WHIP
      Drew Storen, RP – 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 SO, 0.273 WHIP

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:31 PM

        Still more impressive about Storen because there’s a limited book on Barrett and the 1st time these players have seen him.

        Barrett will have to make adjustments and so far, so good!

  7. ArVAFan - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Oh, and Anthony’s little play at 3rd base was #3 on the Top 10 on Sportscenter this a.m. Considering that most of the Top 10 were basketball, hockey and soccer, I’m glad he got the recognitiion.

  8. adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Off topic:

    I liked the following last night:

    In the bottom of the 8th, with the Nats batting and having a 3-0 lead, both Soriano and Barrett were warming up. As soon as Rendon hit the double to make it 5-0, Soriano sat down.

    As I noted after game 1 or 2 (or both?), I like the idea of not using the closer in the 9th when the lead is 4 or more runs.

    • tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      I agree especially with 1) Soriano did not pitch well in these situations last year and 2) Soriano has a vesting option baseed on “games finished”, not saves.

      • adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:53 PM

        Actually — those aren’t my reasons. My understanding is that the “games finished” threshold is high enough that it probably won’t come into play anyway.

        My main point was that I thought it was a waste of an arm to use the guy you’ve designated as “closer” in a situation where anybody in the BP should be able to handle it. Use those situations to keep guys fresh, to give weaker guys some work, or to groom rookies (like Barrett).

        I’m a big-time Davey supporter (from since the 1980’s). But this is one area where I like better what MW is doing.

      • tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        I agree wit those too. I keep hearing that the “games finished” threshold is high but I think he came within 6 or 7 of that number last year and this is a team that we’re thinking may have 10 more wins than last year (so more save chances), I wouldn’t want to get to mid-September and have the “games finished” vesting as an issue in a race for the playoffs or the division crown.

  9. Danny - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    It just took Phil Hughes of the Twins 40 pitches to record an out.

    • adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      And then got the next 15 outs in just 17 batters, allowing only one more hit.

      Baseball’s a funny game!

  10. tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    2011 Draft 1st six picks:

    1. Gerrit Cole

    Pittsburgh Pirates

    Right-handed pitcher

    UCLA

    2. Danny Hultzen

    Seattle Mariners

    Left-handed pitcher

    Virginia

    3. Trevor Bauer

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Right-handed pitcher

    UCLA

    4. Dylan Bundy

    Baltimore Orioles

    Right-handed pitcher

    Owasso High School (OK)

    5.Bubba Starling

    Kansas City Royals

    Outfielder

    Gardner Edgerton High School (KS)

    6. Anthony Rendon

    Washington Nationals

    Third baseman

    Rice

    • tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      José Fernández went 14th overall in this draft, now that is great value!

  11. tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Don’t forget that Tyler Clippard also gave up a go ahead HR in New York, but the team came back to win. I’m sure he’ll be better, but that was a bad week.

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:54 PM

      I was just going to point that out. In fact, Lagares’ go -behind dinger came in the bottom of the 8th and brought us to within one strike of losing the opener, before the combined ninth-inning heroics of Rendon, Espi, and Span tied it up. So that was one game-losing and one almost game losing appearance in five days.

      In between, he had a 21 pitch outing on Wednesday giving up a walk to Tejada and striking out Duda, Lagares and Wilmer Flores.

      On the other hand, as eric pointed out, he was downright filthy last night, so at least for now, he’s already better — and against Hechevarria, Baker, and Stanton, which is a little more like PFB.

  12. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Just like with the real stock market, a week’s worth of data is not particularly useful in making any sort of long- (or even medium-) term estimates. The only exception here is Ryan Zimmerman and that’s because his issue is health/injury, not his stats per se.

    • texnat1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      How has Rendon’s approach changed night/day from last year? Honest question, haven’t been able to watch more than part of 1 game.

      • texnat1 - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        oops, not meant as a reply to Eugene.

  13. ehay2k - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Chase, please let the rest of us know what the “night and day” differences are in Rendon’s approach. To my untrained eye, the biggest change in Rendon is his increased bulk.

  14. 3on2out - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Don’t know where my wife saw it (Facebook?) but she said there’s a new nickname for Anthony last night:

    RENDONCULOUS!

  15. David Proctor - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    Yeah, add me to the chorus of people saying Rendon’s approach looks exactly the same. The balls are just falling in so far this year (and he’s made some adjustments to the adjustments the league made to him).

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      He’s been working with Schu on pre-game preparedness. He is getting better at predicting the future by putting the game as much in his favor as he can. He knows the pitcher’s entire repertoire and if he can work the count to his pitch he feels he has the upper hand.

      Last year you saw a young man who faded towards the end of the season based on wear and tear of the long MLB season. This year I think he came into camp conditioned for the long run.

      • David Proctor - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        I don’t really believe that Rendon wore down. I mean, I believe by being stronger this year he can hit for some more power and such, but he wasn’t bad at the end of the year. By month:

        June: .330
        July: .187
        August: .272
        September: .286

        It seems to me that he got off to a torrid start, the league figured him out and he made some adjustments.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Your theory makes a lot of sense. He had a real bad July for sure. September numbers are often skewed but that’s a good August.

    • Doc - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      Correctomundo, DP. (See above for confirmation).

  16. jd - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Ghost,

    I am optimistic about Barrett. I went to the season opener in NY and Barrett pitched the bottom of the 9th in a tie game and looked completely controlled and focused (there were more than 40,000 fans in the stands). He may have some ups and downs but I think he’l be fine.

    BTW, how about that splitter from Clip last night? if he adds this to his regular repertoire to go with his killer change forget about it.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      I’m like speechless on that splitter as I have to know where that came from. 3 of his 16 pitches were splitters and he threw 1 curveball. That last split was just plain nasty.

      • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        Especially with the way Lobaton called for it.

        “In the dirt. No, seriously…IN THE DIRT. Actually, what I really mean is, make it really REALLY dirty!”

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        This could be a breakthrough for Clip. He can avoid those long innings as we just saw. My assessment after the season ended last year was Clippard and Gio both needed a new pitch in their repertoire, yes I know some of you didn’t think either needed another pitch and Gio didn’t but Clippard has done it and I’m proud of him because continual improvement should never stop. Look at Stras with his slider. There’s a guy who didn’t need anything else.

        I wish someone write about the roots of how this Clippard splitter came about. Is it something Clip learned from Dan Haren or Doug Fister? It’s dirty.

      • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM

        Maybe Livan? Did he have one?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        Good point Eric. Not sure if Livan threw one in his younger days but certainly could mentor Clip. Just filthy come out of that arm slot.

      • Sonny G 10 - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:40 PM

        Doesn’t Mattheus have a splitter? Maybe he learned it from Ryan.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:43 PM

        With that pitch Clip could can get through innings quicker. Think what that potentially can mean for his durability.

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Bill Hamilton just tagged up on a ball in very shallow RF. That kid can fly!

    Wait till you see Hamilton’s highlight reel from this game.

    • David Proctor - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:03 PM

      He’s a big time weapon…when he can actually get on base.

  18. veejh - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Rendon keeps this up, I see him as a .300, 20+HR, 80+ RBI guy through the years. His approach is only 2nd to Werth’s, IMO.

    • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      Watching the two of them at the plate last night was awesome.

    • tcostant - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Back when I lived in NJ (over 15 years ago) the Mets had an OF named Jay Payton. The ball just jumped off his bat and he was a line drive machine. Injuries got the worst of him, but man could he lash! Rendon, aas a hitter, reminds me so much of him.

      • Steady Eddie - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        No drinks here! ;o)

        I was still writing when you posted but we’re obviously channeling the same image!

    • Steady Eddie - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      Rendon is a line drive machine, the product of his great and informed eye (including the strategic approach that Ghost was talking about) and his gorgeous quick swing. When the other team catches one of those liners, who can sense their momentary sigh of relief.

      His line drive production is why I’d actually be surprised if he gets more than 15-20 HRs/year, but if he stays healthy, put him down for .310-.315 years during his prime and many XBIs. RBIs are a function here of where he is in the order. Batting second, which seems to profile as his ideal spot, he’d be less likely to get to 80 RBIs but if healthy would more likely get that higher average with the protection behind him. (Yeah, there’s no such thing. Whatever.)

      • adcwonk - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        Agreed. Probably fewer HR’s (like you said) but lots of 2b’s and 3b’s.

        Example last night — hitting one off the outfield fence. I vaguely recall he did a lot of that last year.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Steady, I like that “informed eye”.

      • veejh - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        I guess it’s just a matter of where he bats in the lineup, but I get it. As he matures, I think more power will come naturally without having to press.

  19. David Proctor - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Washington Nationals ‏@Nationals 1m
    #Nats lineup vs. #Marlins: Span CF, Rendon 2B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman 3B, Desmond SS, Harper LF, Lobaton C, Zimmermann P

    Harper batting 7th against the lefty.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:20 PM

      Yep, Zimmerman is back at 3B. Was just coming post!

      • veejh - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        I wonder how Zimmermann feels about this?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        Veejh, what would do if you were a starting pitcher knowing what you know.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Glad Zimm is back. Espi cant match/produce his bat in the line up… Hopefully got a cortisone shot and is feeling okay…

      • Eric - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        Last I read he was not inclined to get another shot at this point, as the anti-inflammatory meds and new throwing motion are apparently working to alleviate the pain…

        We’ll see…

  20. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    Another bizarre replay in Cleveland. These ball transfers after a catch from glove to hand where it drops out used to be outs and now they aren’t?

    • veejh - Apr 9, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      At first, I was all in favor of these replays. Now that it’s being implemented, I’m not such a fan.

      It slows the game down more than I anticipated, and it’s just not during the actual review. Every time that a manager thinks the play might be reviewable, the manager walks onto the field to stall for time so that they can get the thumb up, or thumb down from their replay guys. They need to clean the system up. Not sure exactly what they should do.

Archives

FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 96 66 --
ATLANTA 79 83 17.0
NEW YORK 79 83 17.0
MIAMI 77 85 19.0
PHILADELPHIA 73 89 23.0

NL POSTSEASON SCHEDULE

NL WILD CARD GAME
WED: Giants at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. (ESPN)

NLDS
FRI: Game 1, Pirates at Nats, 12:07 p.m.,
OR Giants at Nats, 3:07 p.m. (FS1)
SAT: Game 2, PIT/SF at Nats, 5:37 p.m. (FS1)
MON: Game 3, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (MLBN)
OCT. 7: Game 4, Nats at PIT/SF, TBA (FS1)*
OCT. 9: Game 5, PIT/SF at Nats, TBA (FS1)*
*if necessary

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