Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon’s time to shine

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Michael A. Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals after hitting a three run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Michael A. Taylor #3 of the Washington Nationals celebrates with Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals after hitting a three run home run against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals and third baseman Anthony Rendon are a tremendous combination. One which will grow as 2018 moves along.

Anthony Rendon is a solid chunk of backbone for the Washington Nationals. A sixth-place finish in last season’s National League MVP vote places him among the game’s elite.

However, his personality is as easy as a mountain lake at sunrise. Do not let his attitude fool you. Rendon enters the prime years of his career poised to be a superstar in Washington and across the country.

Although most athletes are disappointed not considered the best in their position, Rendon is at ease as Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant and Manny Machado grab headlines. Yes, Rendon’s power fails to match Machado or the equal glove work of Arenado.

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But, the entire package is.

Last year, highlighted by a 10-RBI explosion April 30 against the New York Mets, Rendon’s slash line of .301/.403/.533 was a career best. His .937 OPS was tenth in the NL. If you convert it to OPS+, you get 140 or 40 percent above league average. That is how you earn $12.3 million before hitting free agency.

Add a career-high 41 doubles, 25 home runs and 100 RBI and you get a full package. His ability to grind out at-bats—Rendon drew 84 walks while striking out 82—makes him an additional nightmare for opposing pitchers. No matter where Dave Martinez places him in the lineup, Rendon will thrive.

He can field too.

In ten fewer games in the field from 2016, Rendon turned more double plays, 28 to 26. The number-crunching gurus say he saved 13 more runs than your average third baseman. Paired on the left side of the infield with Trea Turner—you remember, Rendon’s favorite player—you save wear and tear with pitchers.

If Bryce Harper bolts in free agency, this is the last year Rendon’s numbers fly under the radar. In 2019, he may well become the face of the franchise.

For now, the goal is October success. It is hard seeing Rendon remaining sixth in the lineup. You can make the argument he should bat behind Adam Eaton in the two-hole to set the table for Harper. With his ability to smash extra-base hits, Martinez can slot him in the middle of the order too.

A wonderful problem to have.

Now 27, these are Rendon’s salad years. We saw in 2017 what he can do. These next five years can power not only a championship path for the Nats, but his personal one to Cooperstown. Outside of stealing bases, his total game is that good.

Next: Giving Stras credit

For Rendon, he will smile the entire way.

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