MLB Network, in an attempt to discover the “Face of Baseball,” has been running polls via Twitter to uncover the face of each of the thirty MLB franchises. The poll for the Nationals took place Sunday, with the results being announced Monday on Hot Stove. So who is the face of the Nationals? According to MLB Network and the Twitter-verse, it’s none other than the bearded wonder, Jayson Werth.
Frankly, I find that rather confounding. Yeah, Werth’s beard is impressive. The gnome thing is mildly endearing (if not a little creepy). But even if he’s led the team in WAR over the past two seasons, I find it hard to believe that the face of the franchise is the team’s first big free agent signing.
Our Co-Editor, Rick, has already made a case for Bryce Harper, and I can certainly see the merit. After all, Harper is the young player that easily draws the spotlight. He’s loved by some, hated by others, but, regardless of how you feel about Harper, you know about him, and he’s sure to draw opinions from every direction.
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But there’s another player who’s actually done a better job of growing into the role as the face of the Nationals. He’s been a consistent producer, leading the team in WAR in 2014 and ranking third (behind Werth and Desmond) over the past two seasons. In the NLDS, he was the only player apart from Harper to contribute offensively. Plus, unlike Harper, he’s had no trouble staying healthy.
I’m referring, of course, to the Nationals third baseman, Anthony Rendon.
Anthony Rendon entered the league as a young, talented second baseman full of potential. One injury to Ryan Zimmerman later, Rendon is now one of the best third basemen not only in the National League, but all of baseball.
As Pablo mentioned in his National League Rankings piece, Rendon contributes more than just his bat skills, which are spectacular. He’s ranked third in the NL over the last two years in UZR/150. He’s got a quick glove, a strong arm, and great range. What else could the Nationals possibly want from their star third baseman and face of the franchise?
In 2014, there were only three players who accumulated a higher WAR total than Rendon: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, and Michael Brantley. Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout are two of the most prominent figures in baseball, and likely will be among the finalists vying for MLB Network’s Face of Baseball. There’s no reason that people shouldn’t start considering Rendon with that same sort of respect.
As a contender to represent the NL in the World Series, the Nationals will obviously have more than their fair share of talented players and there’s certainly room for debate about who could be considered the “face of the franchise.” But, no offense to Werth, or Harper, or any of the other possible candidates, Rendon has it all, and he’s my choice for the face of the Nationals.