Anthony Rendon’s All-Star month

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

Anthony Rendon hasn’t been around long, and his name isn’t even on the All-Star ballot. Several other National League second baseman have more at-bats, more home runs, more experience and more name recognition.

But over the past three weeks, nobody has played more like an All-Star than Rendon.

The 23-year-old went 3-for-4 at the plate on Wednesday with two singles, one double and a towering fly ball that landed a few feet short of the left-field fence. Since being recalled by the Nationals on June 4, he is batting .392 with nine doubles and a game-winning home run. Since June 8, only one National League player — Mets third baseman David Wright — has more hits.

“He’s swung the bat like a veteran,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s hit every pitch that’s thrown up there at him. He’s got a quick bat and he’s aggressive, he hits all types of pitches.”

The biggest knock against Rendon is obviously his limited number of at-bats. He’s only played in 26 Major League games and his next at-bat will be his 100th at this level. His numbers, while stellar, could easily be indicative of a hot streak rather than a great hitter.

But if the All-Star game truly is about fielding the best player at each position in mid-July, can you completely write off Rendon? While his sample size might be small, Rendon has proven that he is as capable a hitter as anybody in the Nationals lineup. And while Brandon Phillips and Marco Scutaro are the two top vote-getters at the position so far, neither has been as valuable to his lineup over the past month as Rendon.

“Obviously hitting .350 or whatever, [he’s had] a pretty good effect,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We all knew he could hit, and for him to play second base like he has with really no experience there… you really couldn’t ask for him to do any more than he’s done.”

Johnson has been impressed by Rendon’s poise and control at the plate, namely his ability to hit the ball to all parts of the field. While other young hitters have a tendency to pull the ball, Rendon has consistently recorded opposite-field hits and line drives up the middle.

He says he’s using the same approach that he’s used his whole life.

“The game hasn’t changed since I was a little kid,” he said. “[The] strike zone, plate’s still the same size. The bases might have gotten a little bit longer, but that’s pretty much it.”

Stretch out Rendon’s numbers as if he were here all season and the results are impressive. If Rendon maintained his current averages and had as many at-bats as leading vote-getter Phillips (287, or about 3.6 per game), he would lead National League second baseman in hits (106), doubles (30), batting average (.354), on-base percentage (.402) and slugging percentage (.485). He also would rank fifth in runs (36) and walks (24).

Could Rendon hit like this for three straight months? Probably not. Is there any chance that his fellow players will vote him onto the All-Star roster with only a month of Major League experience? Probably not.

But when you talk about Nationals and All-Stars, Rendon has at least earned a place in the conversation.

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