If you had to name one position player on the Nats who seems to have had the most success this year, I think most fans would probably name Anthony Rendon. He’s shown more power than Werth (much more relatively to their positions), a much better ability to get on base than Desmond, didn’t have the early year slump of Span, and has been healthy all year so far unlike Ramos, Zimmerman, Harper and even LaRoche.
That’s part of the reason why Nats fans were hoping he’d make the All Star game. It’s less about whether or not he really deserves the honor, it’s more about who deserves it the most on our team? Unfortunately, the rest of the voting fans didn’t see it the same way. That may have something to do with his competition, so it doesn’t really help us understand the question – does he deserve to be in?
Rendon is currently the team’s starting second baseman, although he’s played more games at third so far. That adds to some of the confusion of the process. Rather than look at one position or the other, let’s see how he ranks in the NL among both sets of players.
Taking a look at some of the more basic stats, he does fairly well:
- HR: He ranks 4th in the NL in HRs (13), behind Todd Frazier (17), Pedro Alvarez (14) and Mark Reynolds (14), all 3Bs. So he tops the list of anyone who considered a 2B. And Mark Reynolds has played about 60% of his starts at 1B, although he does still have 26 starts at 3B. So you could rank Rendon 3rd in this category, 1st among 2Bs.
- H: He has 99 hits, ranking him 7th. Ahead of him are Daniel Murphy (112), Casey McGehee (112), Dee Gordon (103), Chase Utley (101), Todd Frazier (101), and Matt Carpenter (101). His ranking of 7th overall puts him behind three 2Bs and three 3Bs, but he’s essentially neck and neck with four of those guys, and that ranking will probably be different depending on which day of the week you check.
- XBH: First – Rendon has 40 extra base hits, next on the list are Todd Frazier (35) and Chase Utley (35). So he has a relatively nice lead over both position sets, putting him 1st overall.
- SB: He has 8 SBs, putting him well behind Dee Gordon (42!), and much closer to Todd Frazier (13), Emilio Bonifacio (13), Daniel Murphy (11) and Kolten Wong (11). He ranks 6th in this group, and 2nd among 3Bs. It’s worth noting that Rendon’s only been caught twice – only Wong (1) has been caught less, everyone else has been CS at least 4 times.
- TB: He ranks 2nd (170), only one total base behind Todd Frazier (170). He is 2nd on the list, and 1st among 2Bs.
- AVG: Rendon may be a batting title winner some day, but that isn’t going to be this year. His .285 puts him down at 11th in this group, behind a list of guys big enough that I don’t feel like naming but, yes, it includes the ubiquitous Todd Frazier (.289), who is not too far ahead.
- OBP: Rendon’s OBP (.340) is a good number, but it’s not great, and it ranks him 10th on this list, just behind Walker (.348) and Murphy (.346), and well behind some of the leaders.
Taking a look at these numbers, Rendon looks pretty good. He doesn’t have all the power, but he’s got more than most, and his extra base hit/total bases capabilities look pretty nice. The baserunning looks good, though, for what it’s worth. He doesn’t get caught stealing, but he steals some, and some TBs on the margin may owe something to his abilities there. His lower batting average and on base percentage, though, makes you think maybe he isn’t among the very best. So let’s moved to some of the more advanced metrics and see where he ends up
- OPS: Rendon’s ranked second in OPS (.830) and while there are issues with the stat, it’s a good quick-hit overall glimpse. He’s only behind Todd Frazier (.842) putting him 2nd in the group and 1st among 2Bs.
- wOBA: His wOBA (.360) also looks quite good, once again trailing only the magical Todd Frazier( .368). wOBA, if you forgot, is a more advanced stat but it’s in the same vein as OPS – it reflects that a single isn’t as valuable as a double, but unlike OPS, it also reflects that essentially OBP is more important than SLG and weights them differently. Rendon does yeoman’s work here, ranking 2nd in the group and 1st among 2Bs. Neil Walker comes in third place (.352)
- wRC+: Yet again Rendon ranks 2nd with this stat (131) behind only… wait… can you guess? Todd Frazier (135). Walker is again third (127). Rendon ends up 2nd in the group and 1st among 2Bs.
- WAR: I assume I’m allowed to compare WAR between two position rankings and the SABR police won’t come after me, but Rendon’s positional changes make me feel like this stat, which obviously isn’t purely offensive, could be problematic. Shockingly (you might want to sit down for this), Rendon’s WAR (3.4) ranks 2nd in the group behind only Todd Frazier (3.5). He’s first among 2Bs – right behind him is Carpenter (3.3) and Utley (3.1).
Alright so it appears the advanced stats are doing something that is actually quite nice to see, and I don’t mean “tells us that Rendon is great,” although I appreciate that it does. What it shows us is what the more basic stats hint at – while he doesn’t really dominate in too many of the categories – as an overall player he’s great. He is a very balanced hitter.
As for the original question, “does he deserve to be in the All Star game?” my answer is yes. He’s the second best third baseman of the first half of the season, and was the best second baseman, although he only played a quarter of his games there.
One of the biggest reasons he didn’t make it is Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez didn’t rank very highly, but he won the fan voting. He is an integral part of the team with the best record in the NL and a long time great player, so I don’t begrudge him winning the fan vote, but he isn’t the most deserving.
Mike Matheny named Todd Frazier as his first NL starting 3B, and that was a great move. Frazier clearly dominated most of these statistical categories, and he gets in on merit.
But he also named Matt Carpenter, who only looks good in one category – OBP. Carpenter is hitting with very little power, he’s got only 4 HRs and is slugging a measly .384. But Carpenter plays for Matheny, so that’s likely the reason he got in. It’s hard to say that Rendon didn’t deserve to go over Carpenter.
And looking at the numbers, we see he deserved to go over other candidates as well. Rendon was a deserving third baseman for sure. On the second base side of the ledger, Chase Utley made it. He was probably a better vote-in result than Ramirez at third. Utley was near the top of the 2B stats lists in most cases, and was a deserving starter.
As for the other 2Bs, Matheny named Dee Gordon and Daniel Murphy. Gordon does have 42 SBs right now, leading the league and his .348 OBP is pretty good, sure it’s not great, but it’s certainly acceptable, and unlike Carpenter, his SLG is just barely over .400.
Murphy, on the other hand, isn’t that impressive. He’s hitting .297, and his OBP is .345, slightly above Rendon in both categories. He’s also leading the league in hits, with 113, but he’s not really outpacing the competition there. He’s never had all that much power, and he continues that this year, with a pace that might not get him to 15 HRs. He was, however, the only Mets representative on the team, and he might be the most deserving player on that team.
So was Rendon deserving? Absolutely. He should have made it as the third baseman, but probably got screwed over by the manager picking his own player. He didn’t play as much at second, but he could have easily made it there, too. Instead he got screwed over by the need to give every team an All Star. It would have made sense to name him as the last 2B or even call him a 2B/3B, but it didn’t happen. It’s a shame, too, because he should be rewarded for all he’s done for his team.