Anthony Rendon, and Fangraphs, got what was probably the best endorsement of the 2017 season when Rendon’s teammate with the Washington Nationals, Daniel Murphy, was asked if the Nats’ third baseman deserved to be an All-Star along with the second baseman, Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryan Zimmerman, all of whom made the NL roster for the 2017 Midsummer Classic.
“Do you go to Fangraphs at all?” Murphy asked reporters in an All-Star press conference this past July.
“Murphy would love to tell you,” Zimmerman chimed in.
“Yeah, Murph’s got — here we go — start the car,” Scherzer said.
“He’s really, really good,” Murphy continued, “like an under-the-radar superstar.”
“Fangraphs. Check it out.”
Rendon, in an interview at WinterFest at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this past weekend, gave MLB.com a plug, when asked what it’s like to get to know a new manager and coaching staff every few seasons like he has during his time in D.C., and how he went about becoming familiar with everyone this time around.
“Definitely trying to learn their names,” Rendon joked. “That’s the biggest part for me.”
“I’ve actually been trying to stay on top of it this year, like actually got on MLB.com, like, ‘Who is my coaching staff?’”
MLB.com writer: “I appreciate that.”
“I think it’s just trying to learn their names, and trying to learn their techniques and how they’re going to relate to you, trying to just like get a feel for them.”
Learning that Dusty Baker would not return to the bench, Rendon said, was not too surprising, considering the history in the nation’s capital during his five major league campaigns.
“I guess not too surprised given I’ve only been here for five, six seasons and what is this, my third, fourth manager, so I don’t know any different,” he said.
While things have changed around him, Rendon, when healthy, has been consistently productive during his time in the big leagues, and last season he took a big step and put up career-highs in home runs, RBIs, walks, batting average, on-base, and slugging percentage, while finishing second in the National League in fWAR, and first in the NL (and second in the majors) in Fangraphs.com’s DEF rating (which, “measures a player’s defensive value relative to league average.”)
What was he most proud of accomplishing this past season?
“I don’t know,” he said, searching for an answer, “I think the fact that I made less errors than I have been my previous years — I think I made... seven?
“Especially with how I started off, and I hadn’t started off too hot, I think I made like three errors in the first month, maybe, but then I kind of just got a hold of it, and figured it out and kind of coasted, but grinded it through the rest of the season.”
Rendon was a finalist for the NL Gold Glove at third, again, for the second straight year, but Colorado Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado, deservedly, scooped up his fifth in a row. Rendon said he’d like to win one, one day, because of what it represents.
“You always want to win an accolade,” he said, “especially if it’s pertaining to defense, because defense definitely gets overlooked these days, with everyone hitting homers and whatnot, and striking out, but I always tell y’all, the personal accolades will come when we win more.”
As for the offensive production, Rendon said he planned to try to do everything the same in terms of preparation for the 2018 campaign, after the success he had in his fifth major league season.
“That would be nice, yeah, if I could repeat that, but I’m not going to ‘Daniel Murphy’ my swing or anything,” he joked. “Just try to keep it simple, like I’ve been giving y’all the same boring answers for the same amount of years, so just try to barrel the ball, put a good swing on it.”
Rendon is arbitration-eligible again this winter (and in 2019) after avoiding arbitration and signing a 1-year/$5.8M deal with the Nationals last January. MLBTradeRumors.com is projecting a raise to around $11.5M for 2018.
There is already talk about potentially extending the 27-year-old, 2011 Nationals’ first round pick, who told reporters this weekend that he was open to the idea of a long-term deal that would keep him with the organization that drafted him out of Rice with the No. 6 overall pick back in ‘11.
While talks between Bryce Harper, his (and Rendon’s agent) Scott Boras, and the Nats will dominate the news over the next year, before Harper potentially hits free agency next winter, Rendon’s future is something Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said he’ll probably talk to Boras about if he hasn’t begun to already.
“It’s something we’ll certainly discuss,” Rizzo said at the recently-completed Winter Meetings.
“Anthony is, again, a big part of what we do here, and a homegrown player that’s a great performer and a guy that’s a core piece of the organization.”
Rendon said he’s open to the idea, though he’ll let his agents and the Nationals do the talking.
“That’s up to them,” he said, referring to his representatives.
“That’s why I hired them. I dropped out of school. That’s why I’ve got them, though, I can focus on just playing and go work out.”
Staying on long-term in D.C., however, makes sense to the infielder.
“I’ve grown comfortable with you guys, kind of,” he joked with reporters, “but for sure, why not stay with one organization? Especially with all the heat that the NBA players are getting as of late for trying to leave, I’m scared to leave. But no, for sure, it’s a great organization, and it’s great to see how we’ve changed over the years, so it would be good to stay.”