For many years, the second base position has been somewhat of a black hole for the Washington Nationals. From Jose Vidro and Junior Spivey to Ronnie Belliard and Danny Espinosa, there has always seemed to be a curse over that position in D.C. The Nationals have never been able to hold on to a second baseman for longer than a year or two, but that seemed to be far behind them once Espinosa burst onto the scene.
However, injuries derailed that, and Espinosa found himself demoted to the minors in 2013. Thus, we stand with Anthony Rendon, the Nationals’ first-round pick in the 2011 draft and now a third baseman by trade playing at second base. Many believe Rendon will make his mark on the league with his bat as he exhibits patience at the plate that players 10 years his senior do not have, and many believe the power is on its way as well.
Rendon batted in many different spots in the 2013 lineup, but it seems he was the most productive batting seventh, where he posted a .293/.371/.424 slash line and hit two of his seven home runs. That’s not too shabby for a guy that was shuttled around the lineup.
He also posted a solid .329 on-base percentage in 2013, and when he took the first pitch of an at-bat, the youngster posted a pretty impressive .275/.351/.411 slash line. This is a testament to how good Rendon is at taking pitches, especially since his slash line is a paltry .219/.224/.328 when he swings at the first pitch.
Rendon also saw 4.06 pitches per plate appearance, and had he qualified for the stat to be official, he would have ranked in the top 10 in the NL and would have been in the top 30 in the majors. Needless to say, the former top prospect has a lot of offensive potential.
So, what can be expected of Rendon in 2014? Well, I would say more of the same. Rendon has shown that he is a pretty consistent hitter, takes pitches and has power that will only improve as he becomes a more experienced major league hitter. He won’t be 24 until June, so there is plenty of room for him to develop.
A season of stability where the second base job would be his to lose could also help Rendon improve. Of course, there is always a chance of the dreaded sophomore slump, but is not as if Rendon had a huge rookie year, so if there will be any drop-off, it may be in home runs.
However, I think Rendon’s eye, combined with where he hits in the lineup, could really behoove him to succeed, which would make it safe to assume an upward trend. I predict that he’ll finish somewhere in the neighborhood of a .270/.335/.400 slash line with 11 home runs and 45 RBIs.