Player Preview: Anthony Rendon
I believe in Anthony Rendon. I remember the exact moment I came to feel so strongly about Rendon as a player and as a key part of the future of the Washington Nationals. I was sitting in the bleachers in the Pfitz and up walked Anthony Rendon. A sense of anticipation fell over the crowd. The entire place was waiting for something to happen. Rendon is one of the best pure and natural hitters I've ever seen. He has a rare combination of bat speed, plate coverage, and plate discipline, and on that day in Woodbridge it was all on display.
It is because of Rendon's quick wrist and ability to pull pitches inside and take pitches outside the other way that I believe he will one day be a batting champ. He isn't going to be a power hitter. His ceiling is somewhere around 25 home runs, but there is nothing at all wrong with that when a player is getting on base at a near .400 clip and playing plus defense. Aside from his hit for average tool Anthony Rendon doesn't have another tool that jumps off the page. He's a good defender at third base but not elite, he'll hit for good power but he will never be mistaken for a power hitter, he can surprise the opposition with some steals but he isn't a burner on the bases, and his throwing arm is good but he's no Danny Espinosa.
Anthony Rendon is a well-rounded ball player. Above average in every facet of the game and that is what makes him great. If it weren't for injuries in 2015 I fully believe he would have repeated, if not exceeded, his 2014 performance. Injuries are the only thing that can hold Anthony Rendon back and he has had a lot of them if you include his time at Rice. The most troubling thing about Rendon's injuries aren't that he gets injured but that he takes longer than expected to heal. A bruised knee almost completely derailed Anthony Rendon's 2015 season, and in many ways the Nationals season.
The extra four to five wins Rendon would have given the Nationals by being healthy weren't going to be enough to make up for other injuries and poor performance but who knows exactly what happens if Rendon is healthy. Maybe the Mets aren't even close at the deadline and sell instead of buy. Of all the players who were injured for the 2015 Nationals Rendon's had the biggest impact and that is going to be the story with him moving forward. He is an elite player, he is the best third baseman in the NL, and he is one of the best pure hitters I've ever seen, and the only thing that can stop him from being a superstar is health.
I believe that he will do it. The day I saw him in Woodbridge he was a force. There was an aura of calm anticipation that followed him whenever he stepped to the plate. The pitch would be thrown and he'd watch it go by if it was anything he knew he couldn't drive, and then when he got that pitch he knew he could cream he would send it into the gap with a flick of the wrist.