We can all agree that Mike Trout is probably the best player in baseball, right? And if Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, that means Anthony Rendon is not the best player in baseball, right? OK, so it’s settled. Rendon is good, but he’s no Trout. That being said, let’s have fun!
This year, 188 players have batted at least 400 times. Of those, 90 have a walk rate that is at least a hair better than the league average.
Of those 90 players, 49 have a strikeout rate that is at least a hair better than the league average.
Of those 49 players, 28 have a BABIP that is at least a hair better than the league average.
Of those 28 players, 14 have an isolated slugging that is at least a hair better than the league average.
Of those 14 players, five have a baserunning rating that is at least a hair better than the league average.
Of those five players, three have a defense rating that is at least a hair better than the league average.
The three players we’re left with: Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Jonathan Lucroy. These players are above-average at walks, contact, hits, power, baserunning, and defense, at least as far as the 2016 season is concerned. The defense rating uses UZR, and maybe you don’t love that, but DRS likes Trout even better. We know that Lucroy is a strong defensive catcher. And DRS likes Rendon, too. So it makes for an interesting group. These are regular position players who have made positive contributions across the board. Trout’s positive contributions have been the most positive, but if you’re looking for well-roundedness, Rendon is very nearly by himself.
Injuries mostly spoiled what Rendon tried to do a year ago. If you go back two years, though, there were 209 players who batted at least 400 times. Going through all the same process as above, one would’ve been left with just two players: Anthony Rendon and Alex Gordon. So Rendon has had a season like this before, and now that he’s healthy again, perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s back to being fantastic.
He could even maybe be an MVP candidate, were it not for an awful first month. Since the beginning of May, Rendon has been good for a 127 wRC+ and a WAR of 4.5. That puts him right around his 2014 pace, and back in 2014, it was Rendon who felt like the underrated borderline superstar. Last year did nothing to help his perception, but now he’s back and just 26 years old. He’s not as flashy as Bryce Harper, and he doesn’t have the offensive potential of Bryce Harper, but Rendon does a little bit of everything, which makes him enormously valuable. It really shouldn’t be a secret why the Nationals have been so good even with Harper mysteriously coming somewhat apart.
Once before, Rendon has been among baseball’s most underrated players. Now he’s back to being exactly the same. When you think about the Nationals, you think about Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. You’re doing your own self a disservice if you stop there.