He may not want the spotlight, but it’s finally found him.
Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon was named a reserve for the National League squad of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game on Sunday, marking the first time in his seven-year career that he’ll be appearing in the Midsummer Classic.
Heading to Cleveland alongside starting pitcher Max Scherzer, Rendon has been enjoying the best season of his career so far in 2019. The 29-year-old is slashing .311/.398/.630 with 19 home runs, 21 doubles, 58 RBIs and 63 runs scored in 69 games this season while providing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the hot corner.
“Sure, I’d love to be an All-Star, but without going, if that’s possible,” Rendon (sort of) joked earlier this season. “I’m just trying to go out here and play baseball … I’m not worried about — whatever happens, happens. I just take it one day at a time.”
It was one of the biggest crimes in baseball. Rendon has finished in the top 11 of MVP voting three times yet never received enough fan support to receive a spot on an All-Star roster. Even this year, he was a distant afterthought in the voting and had to be added as a reserve.
For context, Rendon ranks seventh in the majors among position players in fWAR (27.9) since he played his first full season in 2014. You have to go all the way down to 32nd on that list to find the next player (Andrelton Simmons) who didn’t make at least one All-Star appearance over that span.
“He deserves to go,” right fielder Adam Eaton said about Rendon two weeks ago. “Even if he doesn’t want to go … I think everyone should send him in spite, just get him there. Get him to Cleveland. He wants to go. Get him there, he just doesn’t know it yet.”
In a way, it perfectly embodies Rendon’s personality. He’s always been a player content with flying under the radar and staying out of the limelight. Reporters know him as a short interview who always deflects questions about himself. You’ll never see him make noise on social media and his bat flips are nothing special.
When he shared a clubhouse with the always-polarizing Bryce Harper, it was easy for Rendon to quietly perform without having to endure a great deal of public attention. But if the Nats’ lack of interest in retaining Harper this past offseason was any indication, this is Rendon’s team now. Even if his future in D.C. beyond this season is still uncertain, it’s no secret that the fanbase desperately wants him locked up to a long-term deal.
“I told him the other day I can’t wait to be drinking a Corona on the beach and watching him trying to hit a slider and he was very [envious] of that,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “But he really wants to go, so let’s make sure he goes.”
It’s official, he’s going. Casual fans of other teams around the league may not yet know his name, but he’s finally going to get the attention he deserves — whether he likes it or not.