The Turning Point in Anthony Rendon's Season Is Quite Obvious
Every so often, we're able to circle a date on the calendar in sports and say, "This is when everything turned around (or went south) for them." That particular date is sometimes an arbitrary one, but it's also quite obvious in certain cases. For Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon, we know exactly when his 2017 campaign began transforming into what it is today.
Through 326 plate appearances, Rendon has slashed a healthy .300/.399/.552 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI, which has led to a .399 wOBA and 146 wRC+. When comparing him to other qualified third basemen, his wOBA and wRC+ are second to only Jose Ramirez, who is having a fantastic year himself and will be starting at the hot corner for the American League in the midsummer classic.
With all this personal success on one of baseball's best offenses, it's easy to forget that Rendon actually had a horrific month of April...until the final day of the month.
Masking a Month of Struggles
Saying Rendon was struggling at the plate through April 29th is quite the understatement. In his first 95 plate appearances of the year, he produced just a .263 wOBA, 57 wRC+ and a barely-existent Isolated Power (ISO) of .024. With just one day left before the calendar flipped to May, he was on track to have one of the worst offensive performances in baseball during April.
His struggles kind of got buried since Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper were at the other end of this spectrum, but Washington really needed him to pick things up. So, he did just that with this historic performance against the New York Mets on April 30th.
.@Anthonyrendon_6 becomes FIRST player to go 6-for-6 with 3 HR and 10 RBIs in one game since at least 1913.https://t.co/NAMOYwP4pa pic.twitter.com/2epf5vbyfx
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) April 30, 2017
We just touched upon what some of his offensive statistics looked like before this game. Once he was finished annihilating the Mets' pitching staff, his wOBA (.336), wRC+ (105), and ISO (.133) for the month were more than respectable.
It looked like he had a decent April, when in reality, it was the complete opposite. Rendon made sure the warm and fuzzies he invoked with this performance didn't stop there, though -- he used it as a springboard for a year that's more than worthy of an All-Star selection.
Red Hot Ever Since
If we include that performance from April 30th and take a look at what Rendon has done over his most recent 231 plate appearances entering Friday's action, it's awfully impressive.
He's posted a .455 wOBA and a 183 wRC+ off the strength of a .332/.433/.684 triple slash, 16 homers, 46 RBI, and a .352 ISO. His .314 BABIP during this stretch shows that he's earned every bit of it, and we can point to his 49.1% fly-ball rate and 40.8% hard-hit rate as part of the reason why (those numbers were at 38.5% and 20.0% through April 29th, respectively).
And if there's a need to continue comparing Turner and Rendon, their numbers entering action on Friday since April 30th are very similar. The below table compares their OPS, ISO, strikeout rate (K%), walk rate (BB%), wOBA and wRC+ during that time.
Turner's playing time was limited due to a stint on the disabled list, but it's not as if he didn't deserve a trip to Miami. It's just that Rendon does, too -- only two hitters with at least 90 plate appearances since April 30th have recorded a higher ISO than Rendon: Mike Trout (.478 in 96 plate appearances) and Cody Bellinger (.355 through 260 plate appearances).
The guy has had a rather incredible first half of play. After struggling through virtually the entire first month, it's pretty clear that his historic six-hit performance was the turning point for his 2017 season. Even though it hasn't led to an All-Star selection, the Nats sure are hoping it carries over into the dog days of summer.