There will be a place for Anthony Rendon in the Washington Nationals lineup this season. The question remains will the majority of his time be at second base?
There is an open competition between Rendon and Danny Espinosa at second base. The Nationals also want to give Anthony Rendon some time at third base shifting Ryan Zimmerman to first base for the occasional start.
Rendon was the sixth pick in the 2011 draft out of Rice University, was the first underclassman to win Baseball America’s Player of the Year Award, and is currently resides as the top prospect in the Washington Nationals organization.
The downside is his health. He battled ankle and shoulder injuries in college and he missed a majority of the 2012 season with another ankle injury.
Obviously, he has the inside track at second base over Danny Espinosa, who managed only a .158 average in an injury-shortened season last year.
With almost 400 plate appearances Anthony Rendon produced a line of .265/.329/.396 in place of the injured Espinosa. The biggest factor for the Nationals to get his bat in the lineup is the amount of power he can generate from the second base position.
At this point in his career I think Rendon’s power is vastly overrated. There are statisticians predicting 20-home run power as soon as this season. predictions which I think are overblown.
He showed that kind of power in college but he has yet to flash it at the professional level. 398 at-bats in Washington do not make for a veteran hitter. He is ready to produce at this level but the power is going to take another season or two to develop. I absolutely see him as a very good power source in his career but I don’t see Rendon hitting more than 15 home runs this season.
He needs to find more patience at the plate. He only walked 7.8% of the time last season. His strikeout numbers aren’t horrendous at 17.8% but when you include Rendon’s low walk rate a lot could be improved. He has shown considerably higher walk rates in the minor leagues. This leads me to believe that you may see his walk rate nearly double this season with some patience.
If his walk rate increases considerably you can expect his batting average to increase with it. He hit .265 last season and you can expect something in that range for this year unless he shows a little more discipline per at-bat. An increased walk rate of 13 or 14% would increase his batting average to the .275 to .280 range.
He will be 25 years old in June and he does have considerable upside. The Washington Nationals are going to give him every opportunity for playing time at multiple positions this season.
You can expect to draft him in the fourth tier of second baseman. He will be drafted along with the likes of Jedd Gyorko, Kelly Johnson and Ryan Raburn. These guys have upside, especially Gyorko and Raburn, but they are not going to set the fantasy baseball world on fire.
Expect good things from Anthony Rendon this season but don’t expect him to carry your team offensively for stretches at a time.