Fantasy Baseball: Why Anthony Rendon Can Bounce Back in 2016
A lot of things went into making the Washington Nationals one of the most disappointing teams in baseball last year.
The starting rotation, while good, wasn't quite as dominant as advertised. The addition of Jonathan Papelbon threw the back-end of the bullpen into upheaval late in the year. And the injuries. My heavens, the injuries.
Perhaps the most damaging were the injuries suffered by the Nats' terrific young infielder Anthony Rendon, who played in only 80 games and totaled just 355 plate appearances. He sustained a knee injury diving for a ball in spring training, strained an oblique muscle while rehabbing the knee injury, and threw in a quad issue on top of all that for good measure.
The Nationals were depending on Rendon to put together a season like the one he did in 2014 when he finished fifth in the NL MVP voting and won the Silver Slugger Award for second base. What they got was something very different.
But as we enter the 2016 season, it's far more likely than not that Rendon will be more like his 2014 self than the shell we saw last season.
The most encouraging thing about last year was, even though he was hurt, he still managed to put up a solid on-base percentage, with an OBP just slightly lower than the year before. There's no doubt the oblique, quad and knee injuries affected his ability to hit the ball with power, as evidenced by the home run total and slugging percentage.
And it's not like Rendon's 2014 jumped up from out of nowhere. His minor league numbers suggest he's more the hitter he was in '14 than he was last year. We're not talking about a regression to the mean, here.
This year, Rendon's ADP overall is around 80, and he's going 10th among MLB third basemen, according to Fantasy Pros. We'll do our full third base rankings shortly, but as of right now, the only third sackers I'd take ahead of Rendon are Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Manny Machado and maybe Miguel Sano.
Steamer has projected him for a .277/.350/.438 season with 15 homers, 61 RBI, 77 runs scored, 6 stolen bases, a .343 wOBA, 116 wRC+ and an fWAR of 3.7.
Not bad, but I think he'll be better.
And even though he will be the team's full-time third baseman, Rendon will still have positional flexibility at least to start the season, draftable at second base as well. Among second basemen, Rendon is being drafted sixth overall, behind Jose Altuve, Dee Gordon, Robinson Cano, Matt Carpenter and Brian Dozier.
So if you're looking for a good buy-low candidate at third or second this season, Rendon should be at the top of your list.