Washington Nationals: Anthony Rendon has yet another MVP caliber year

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DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30: Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals makes a leaping throw for a forceout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 30: Anthony Rendon #6 of the Washington Nationals makes a leaping throw for a forceout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 30, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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After a brief break, our 2018 Report Cards are back. Next, we look at yet another MVP caliber season from Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon.

After a day off, our 2018 Report Card series is back today, as we look at several Washington Nationals players this offseason. Next up, we have Anthony Rendon, who continues to pump in under-the-radar MVP caliber seasons for the team.

In fairness, they’re only under-the-radar to people who aren’t Nationals fans. His hometown fans know just how good is he is after seeing him perform at a high standard, on both sides of the ball, in D.C. for the past six seasons.

Even though he missed 19 games at the start of the season, Rendon was still able to finish second among hitters in the National League in fWAR to Christian Yelich. The third baseman slashed .308/.374/.535 with 24 home runs and 92 RBI in one of his finest seasons as a National.

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The Positives for Rendon

Despite those standout statistics with the bat, you could argue that Anthony Rendon was even better in the field than at the plate. He finished with the highest UZR among NL third basemen last season and was barely second to Nolan Arenado in FanGraphs Defensive Rating among the same group. While he didn’t have the same flash in the field as Arenado, he had four fewer errors than any other NL third baseman, making all the routine plays consistently. You’d expect nothing less from Mr. Consistency Rendon.

But your position players are paid to hit, and hit well, which is exactly what Anthony Rendon did on a consistent basis all season. The lowest batting average he had in any month in 2018 was .268 in May and he only had one month with an OPS below .819 last campaign. All of the above equates to Rendon having the highest fWAR of any hitter in the NL since the start of 2017 at 13.0, just ahead of the 12.2 from Yelich. Yes, we’re pretty sure he’s MVP caliber.

Areas for Improvement

Those games that he missed at the start of the year are really the only complaint you can have about his 2018 season, and even then, we’re nitpicking here. His injury history isn’t extensive, but he always seems to find a way to miss a chunk of games a season. This year it was with a toe injury after fouling a ball off of his foot, so not much of a long-term concern for that particular injury.

Again, we’re being nitpicky here, but it’s possible that, to some extent, his .308 batting average could be due for a step back next year. His BABIP was up a little at .323 in 2018 from his career BABIP of .314, indicating a bit of regression on that front. His walk rate also dropped a little bit from 13.9 percent in 2017 down to 9.2 percent in 2018 and might be worth keeping an eye on next season to see if he can get his elite-level plate discipline back.

The Final Grade

As you may have guessed from the very selective areas for improvement, there really isn’t a hole in Rendon’s game right now. Yes, there are players who might hit for slightly more power or steal more bases, but there isn’t one area the third baseman struggles in.

This year’s MVP award is Yelich’s to lose at this point, and rightfully so, but Anthony Rendon should finish inside the top five at the very least. This grade is one of the easiest that we’ll give out during our series this offseason. A+

Washington Nationals. ANTHONY RENDON. A+. . 3B

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Remember to keep an eye out for more Washington Nationals 2018 Report Cards during the upcoming weeks here at District on Deck.

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