A year after playing in only 80 games in 2015 due to several nagging injuries, Anthony Rendon returned to form last season and finished the year hitting .270/.348/.450 for the Washington Nationals with 20 home runs and 91 runs scored.
Rendon was originally slotted at the No. 2 spot in the order to start the year, but he struggled early on and eventually swapped places with Jayson Werth at the No. 5 position.
Once he moved down the lineup, however, Rendon was able to turn things around and finish out the season with respectable numbers.
Through the first eight games of the 2017 season, Rendon has yet to catch fire.
The Houston, Texas, native boasts just a .133 (4-for-32) batting average on the year and has yet to record an extra-base hit.
Despite Rendon’s struggles, manager Dusty Baker has been penciling him in at the No. 2 spot with Trea Turner out with a hamstring injury that landed him on the 10-Day Disabled List.
Adam Eaton has been getting the job done at leadoff in Turner’s absence, hitting .333 with nine runs scored so far this season.
The center fielder has reached base eight times with Rendon hitting behind him, doing his part in putting baserunners on for power hitters Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy hitting third and fourth.
However, Rendon is just 1-for-8 in situations with Eaton on base in front of him — and he was picked off at first the one time he did manage to get a hit.
Overall, he’s hitting .071 (1-for-14) in the No. 2 spot and hasn’t been able to provide the Nationals with any kind of support out of such a key spot in the lineup.
Will Rendon be able to turn things around? Absolutely. Slumps happen and Rendon is no stranger to them.
Nevertheless, with right-handers Werth and Ryan Zimmerman off to hot starts, moving Rendon down in favor of someone else would allow him to work through this rough start without being in as many high-leverage situations.
Baker is a manger who doesn’t like to move players up and down the lineup very often, preferring to let players settle into their spot, allowing them to just focus on their hitting.
Unfortunately, Rendon’s struggles are costing the team runs.
With a week remaining until Turner’s eligible to come off the DL, Baker may have to break the mold and switch a few things up.