WASHINGTON, D.C.: Dusty Baker was asked on Monday night, before the series opener with the Chicago Cubs, about the possibility of the Washington Nationals sending a up to seven players back down to Miami, FL for the 2017 All-Star Game.
Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, and Bryce Harper are currently leading the voting at their respective positions, and Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez are also considered candidates for a trip to the Midsummer Class—
“What about Rendon?” Baker interrupted.
“And Rendon,” the reporter who was asking agreed. “So, that’s seven. Is there — do you worry at all if you’ve got a bunch of guys going, about rest and people getting a break, or is it only a positive?”
“No, it’s a positive,” Baker, a two-time All-Star during his playing days, said.
“Only guys I hear talk about getting a break and the rest are guys that have gone a bunch of times, you know what I mean? Those are the only guys, cause they don’t know any difference, the guys that haven’t gone and so — I don’t want to go. Unless I’m managing. Because I’ve been a bunch times, and I’d like the break to go fishing.”
“Some of these guys that have been a bunch — Scherzer, I mean, he’s been a few times he’s till excited about going.”
Rendon, whose name Baker said should be in the conversation, has never been an All-Star Game before, but he is currently second on the team in fWAR, at 3.0, behind only Bryce Harper (3.1).
Through 70 games and 294 plate appearances before Tuesday night’s game, the 27-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick had a .290/.395/.532 line, 16 doubles, and 14 home runs.
Rendon’s .290 AVG was the fifth-highest among qualified NL third basemen. His .395 OBP was the NL’s best among third basemen. His .532 SLG the fourth-best.
He led all NL 3B in wOBA (.391) and wRC+ (140) and he was second in walks (43), behind only Kris Bryant of the Cubs, and his 1.02 K/BB was the NL’s best among third basemen.
He’s also, as of the last update, currently 1,199,224 votes behind Bryant, who’s 78,000+ ahead of the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, in the voting for the spot as the NL’s starting third baseman.
Rendon could, of course, be added through the voting of players, managers, and coaches.
Whether he makes his first All-Star appearance or not, and knowing Rendon as fans in the nation’s capital do, he probably would rather avoid that spotlight, the 27-year-old infielder is off to an impressive start to his 2017 campaign.
Baker was asked before the second of four with the Chicago Cubs what has impressed him most about Rendon’s approach at the plate.
“His patience and his overall coolness of mind not to ever panic,” Baker said.
“You can’t tell when he’s ahead the count, 3-1, you can’t tell when he’s 0-2.
“And the fact that he can foul off good pitches, I think that that is really, really a lost art, fouling off good pitches, because ordinarily [the pitchers] can’t repeat that same pitch over, and over, and over and wind up either making a mistake or walking you, or they’ve got you set up for one pitch and then BANG, and then he’ll foul off a pitch.”
“And I remember,” Baker continued, “I’ll never forget the time I saw Pete Rose foul off 15 in a row, you know what I mean, and I asked him how come — I got to first base — ‘Why did you foul off so many?’ and he said that he didn’t like the guy, and there’s a real art in sending the fans a souvenir. Certain guys gets up there and you’ve got a chance to get a souvenir, so that’s what’s impressed me the most.”
Baker was also asked if he saw anything different from Rendon this season as opposed to his first season managing the infielder in 2016.
“No, not much. Not much,” he said. “But he’s healthier, and plus he had a better start, and I see him having a monster second half, cause last year was my first year with him and he had a big second half last year. I think he only hit one home run in April and two RBIs or something like that, five RBIs, so he’s way ahead of the pace and schedule.”