Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon a premier player

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22: Anthony Rendon
HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22: Anthony Rendon /

Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon has quietly been one of the best all-around players in the league this year. The scary thing is, he’s only getting better.

Since debuting in 2013, Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon has played an integral role in the team’s success. He has consistently been among the best offensive performers in the league, along with being a defensive stalwart at the hot corner.

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Through no fault of his own, Rendon is not well-known nationally and wasn’t even named an All-Star this season. Despite not being named an All-Star, Rendon is currently the MLB leader in WAR. The players who fill out the top five in terms of WAR are all MVP-candidates (Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, and Joey Votto), yet Rendon, the MLB leader, is hardly recognized.

Rendon is having a season for the ages, illustrated by the fact that he’s the MLB WAR leader, but he is still improving. If you look at 2014, 2016, and 2017 (he was hurt for most of 2015), you’ll notice that he’s trending upwards on both sides of the ball.

When taking a look at FanGraphs, you’ll notice that his walk percentage is going up, strikeout percentage is going down, isolated power is going up, slugging percentage is going up, and weighted runs created plus (wRC+) is going up.

2014Nationals8.5 %15.2 %
2015Nationals10.1 %19.7 %
2016Nationals10.0 %18.1 %
2017Nationals13.9 %14.5 %0.96.305.407.545.951.239.32195145

This table and all the aforementioned stats go to show that Rendon is a young hitter and is still improving. At 27, he likely has not yet reached his prime.

Rendon’s wRC+ is especially outstanding. At 145, he ranks 10th in the MLB, behind only elite hitters such as Stanton, Votto, Altuve, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge, Goldschmidt, and Justin Turner.

In addition to being a premier hitter, Rendon has also played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base. Looking at Rendon’s ultimate zone rating (UZR), he is an elite defender who’s still improving.

2014Nationals .3B1148.212    179     4.2    4.6
2016Nationals3B1345.0  8184    10.612.2

Although his UZR shows that he is a phenomenal defender, his UZR/150 may illustrate this more clearly. UZR/150 is similar to UZR, but is scaled to 150 innings to compare players with different sample sizes.

1Andrelton SimmonsLAASS1140.22523014.318.1
2Anthony RendonWSN3B1070.1917413.317.1
3Mookie BettsBOSRF1157.12920616.416.9
4Yasiel PuigLADRF1006.11613810.616.7
5Alex GordonKCRLF947.21115212.315.7

When looking at UZR/150, Rendon ranks second in the MLB. Only Andrelton Simmons, widely regarded as the best defender in the MLB, ranks higher.

Very few players, if any, are able to excel in all facets of the game like Rendon. When you consider how valuable he is, you’d expect him to be among the highest paid players in the league. However, he is only being paid $5.8 million.

Being paid just $5.8 million, Rendon is a bargain. His low salary might even create additional value. Comparable players to Rendon are routinely being paid at least $20 million per year, and most aren’t as well-rounded.

Next: Surviving Bryce Harper's injury

Anthony Rendon may not be an All-Star and most likely will not be named the National League MVP, but we can all relate to Trea Turner in that he is our favorite player.