After he went 1 for 3 with an RBI double and a run scored in Washington’s 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Nationals Park on Sunday, Anthony Rendon was left with a .275/.354/.457 line, 37 doubles and 17 HRs in 579 plate appearances on the year.
Dusty Baker talked at length last week about the third baseman’s contributions since his slow start to the 2016 campaign in April, but he was asked again after the finale with the Phillies how important a part of the Nationals’ lineup the 26-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick really is.
“Like we talked about the other day, I mean, he’s had a great — I don’t know what his batting average is, I know he’s driven in a bunch of runs since the All-Star Break and hit some home runs,” Baker said.
“He’s played outstanding defense. He’s in the part of that order, the fifth guy, is your foundation man in the middle of that order. He’s in the middle. He’s not only coming through with key RBIs, he’s getting on base when [Bryce] Harper and [Daniel] Murphy don’t and he has to lead off an inning.
“That fifth hitter is one of the most important hitters in the game.
“Especially in the two-out situation cause he’s going to hit a lot when Murph’s on if they walk Harper, so he’s responded great.”
Rendon has hit in a number of different spots in the Nats’ lineup this season because Baker seems comfortable using him anywhere, though he’s spent most of his time in the five-spot recently.
“We’ve batted him all around the order trying to find the right spot for for this team, and he’s probably the one guy who can hit anywhere. He’s hit second, he’s hit sixth, he’s hit fifth, when Murph was out he hits third sometimes, sometimes he hits fourth when Harp is out. He’s a very, very important cog in our lineup.”
Rendon’s batting fifth and playing third tonight in the series opener with the Mets.
Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for the first of three with NY in D.C.: