Did Washington Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon deserve to be an All-Star? Probably. I know, I know, I should have a stronger opinion than probably. If you ask his teammates, they were pretty clear about what they thought...
“Do you go to Fangraphs at all?” Daniel Murphy asked reporters in the nation’s capital in an All-Star press conference last Monday when he too was asked if Rendon should have been on the dais with talking about his first All-Star Game.
“Murphy would love to tell you,” Ryan Zimmerman chimed in, prompting the Nats’ second baseball to continue talking Rendon.
“Yeah, Murph’s got — here we go — start the car,” Max Scherzer said.
“He’s really, really good,” Murphy continued, “like an under-the-radar superstar.”
“Fangraphs. Check it out.”
Murphy, Zimmerman, Scherzer, Bryce Harper, and Stephen Strasburg are all on their way to the 2017 version of the Midsummer Classic in Miami’s Marlins Park, while Rendon gets to rest up and prepare for the second half, which Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker expects will be a big one for the third baseman.
Baker was asked recently what he saw from Rendon this season that was different than their first campaign together in 2016.
“He’s healthier,” Baker said, “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.”
Rendon finished the first half of the 2017 campaign with a .304/.407/.552 line, 21 doubles, 16 home runs, 48 walks, and 47 Ks in 81 games and 339 plate appearances, over which he was worth an NL-best 4.1 fWAR.
Yahoo!Sports.com’s Jeff Passan made the case that Rendon deserved to participate in the Midsummer Classic before the end of Sunday’s game:
Anthony Rendon is hitting .305/.408/.554 -- and with 48 walks and just 47 strikeouts. Only five NLers OPSing higher. A legitimate ASG snub.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 9, 2017
His .304 AVG was the best among qualified National League third basemen, his .407 OBP was tops as well, with his .552 SLG third among third basemen, behind only the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (.554), and Brewers’ third baseman Travis Shaw (.570).
Rendon’s .403 wOBA was the NL’s best, among third basemen, as were his 148 wRC+.
Defensively? His .975 fld% was third-best, behind Shaw (.978) and Arenado (.988), his eight Defensive runs saved were third, behind the Cardinals’ Jedd Gyorko (11 DRS) and Arenado (16 DRS), but he led all qualified NL third basemen in Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), at 8.0 to Arenado’s 6.5 UZR, and UZR/150 (number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games - Fangraphs), at 17.0 to Arenado’s 9.9 UZR/150.
"He should be the starting third baseman for the National League this year," Bryce Harper told reporters this weekend, as quoted by MLB.com’s Kyle Melnick.
"Definitely nothing against Nolan Arenado or anybody else that's there, but that guy has had an unbelievable first half. He's kept us in ballgames, had innings to win ballgames, played a great third base, and just done everything all around for us."
“He does everything, he does defense, offense, steals bases,” Scherzer said last Monday.
“What Rendon’s done for us, and the runs he’s driven in, those have been huge, huge runs. It’s really hard for me to swallow that he’s not up here at the table right now.”
“I just think that he’s had type of year. He’s one of the best third basemen in the game, if not the best right now, so it’s really hard for me to sit here and tell you that he doesn’t deserve to go.”
What’s more important, of course, than his participation in an exhibition game, are his contributions to the Nationals.
Baker told reporters after the first-half finale yesterday, that the third baseman has been a big part of Washington’s first-half success.
“Anthony is our foundation man,” Baker said. “And he’s a clutch man. You need a base hit to right, you need a homer, you need an RBI, whatever that you need, Anthony is usually the guy that comes through. Especially hitting behind Murph is so very, very important, because you see a lot of times they don’t walk Murph to get to Anthony, which shows the amount of respect that he has throughout the league.”
Maybe next summer that respect will translate into All-Star votes.