Anthony's parents have always joked that he started hitting rocks and pine cones with a stick when he was about 3 years old, a talent that kept growing steadily over the years. Rendon was playing organized baseball by the time he was 5, becoming a slugging prodigy at a young age.
In 2008, Rendon graduated from Lamar High school in Houston. He hit .570 with 8 homers, 56 RBI, and 13 steals as a senior. He was a star basketball player, track athlete and baseball player at Hodges Bend Middle School .
In 2009, Rendon was named the Baseball America College Freshman of the Year. Anthony graduated from Lamar High School in Houston in 2008, then hit .388-20-72 with Rice as a freshman in 2009.
And in 2010, for the first time in a decade, Baseball America's College Player of the Year is an underclassman. In the 30-year history of the award, underclassmen won just three times before this year, and all three were special talents who went on to long, successful big league careers: sophomores Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State (1987), John Olerud of Washington State (1988), and Mark Teixeira of Georgia Tech (2000).
Rice sophomore third baseman Anthony Rendon fits the same mold. The early favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall in 2011, Rendon put up numbers that match his prodigious talent, hitting .394/.530/.801 with 26 home runs and 85 RBIs.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker declared June 29, 2010 to be Anthony Rendon Day in Houston.
In June 2011, the Washington Nationals chose Rendon as their first round pick in the draft (see Transactions below).
In 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Rendon as the second best prospect in the Nationals organization, behind only Bryce Harper. And before 2013 spring camps opened, Anthony moved into the #1 spot in the Nats' farm system.
Anthony has a real passion for the game. You won't find many guys who have more fun playing the game. He not only likes to play, he likes to practice. He likes the whole life of being a baseball player.
Rendon got a lot of challenging experiences on the field when he tagged along with his older brother (by four years). Playing against older competition enabled Anthony to face up to big challenges and elevate his game.
"Baseball is what I always wanted to do with my life," Anthony said. "I always want to play. And I always want ot hold a glove, or bat, or ball."
April 21, 2013: Rendon played in his first Major League game.
"He is a natural baseball player," Nats first-base coach Tony Tarasco said. "His swing is easy. His attitude is mellow and even. First appearances are quite deceiving. The guy is 5-foot-11, 185, 190, and the ball jumps off his bat like he is 6-foot-5, 245. He has a sweet swing. He makes adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He is a natural out on the field. He has a great glove. It comes effortless for him."
Asked if he was ready to play in the big leagues, Rendon said, "There is only one way to find out and that's to be here. I'm pretty confident, I'm a confident person—at least I try to be. I try to do the best I can in everything I do, so we'll see how it plays out."
Rendon found out he was going to the big leagues from Harrisburg manager Matt LeCroy. At first, Rendon couldn't believe it. He thought he was going to be scolded by the skipper. "It's like everybody else. Are you serious? You are not going to believe it at the time, obviously," Rendon said. "Then it finally sets in. It's pretty exciting."
It finally settled in that Rendon was in the big leagues once he arrived at Citi Field. He shared a cab ride with teammate Chad Tracy and was amazed at the New York scenery. "We were in a cab ride over here and I said, 'Dang, this is really happening.' It finally settled in," Rendon said. "I was trying to take in the view. Being in New York, I was trying the sightseeing and looking out the window." (He went 0-for-4 in his first big league game.)
For Rendon, a full baseball season is a welcome challenge. Rendon, who split time between the minors and Majors in 2013, played his 98th game of the season on August 10. That might not seem to be a huge number, but it's a meaningful one for a player who has seen injuries cut into his career. This is his first chance to experience a complete professional season.
During his college career at Rice, Rendon played about 60 games per season. He dealt with ankle injuries at the end of his freshman and sophomore years, then spent most of his junior campaign fighting a shoulder problem that limited him mostly to designated hitter and ate into his production.
In 2013, Rendon was healthy from Day 1. "It feels normal again," Rendon said. "It's good to come out here and try to be a part of the game every day, not just playing and then next thing you know having to rehab or do something from an injury standpoint."
Nationals director of player development Doug Harris and others in the organization preached to Rendon the importance of taking care of his body and preparing for the toll of a long season. And Anthony repeated the same routine every day, working in the weight room and spending time in the hot and cold tubs. He also does what he calls a "maintenance routine" for his ankles, stretching them and completing a series of exercises in an effort to prevent another injury. (Ladson and Simon - mlb.com - 8/11/13)
Anthony's body fat was down to 8.5 percent when he reported to 2014 spring training. Rendon can deadlift 505 pounds on a trap bar for seven repetitions. During the offseason, he trained under Houston-based trainer Ben Fairchild, who marvels at Rendon’s cat-like reflexes and strength.
Rendon loved a drill in which Fairchild would toss a ball that had knobs and, thus, would bounce unpredictably. Anthony would catch it with his left hand. To mimic playing the creeping shadows of an afternoon baseball game, they did it with an open door to let sunlight in. As he shuffled his feet, Rendon kept his legs spread open as if fielding a grounder and nabbed every ball.
"I've been blessed with great hand-eye coordination," Anthony said. "That's just one of the drills I wanted him to push me on. I thrived and really pushed myself to do that because it's more game-like activity."
- Homecomings are fairly common for Major League ballplayers. But a triple-digit ticket count for your crew during that homecoming? That's taking it to another level. That's the kind of support Nationals infielder and Houston-area native Rendon has during Washington's two-game set against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"Maybe even 200 [tickets]," Rendon said. "I got friends, family, people from my Mom's work—you name it, they'll be here. My Dad coordinated all of it, and the head count got pretty high."
Rendon grew up in the southwest suburbs of Houston but eventually played high school ball at Lamar High School in the heart of Houston.
Clearly, Houston is home for Rendon. He spent an off-day with his family, swimming and sharing a family dinner with relatives in town from as far away as West Virginia.
"Just being in an environment I'm used to is the best," Rendon said. "I know every back road, every street, pretty much. When you go to other cities, you have to worry about taxi drivers taking the right way to the park and those things. It's comfortable here."
Rendon still lives in Houston during the offseason. (Abshire - mlb.com - 4/29/14)
What impresses Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr is Rendon's demeanor. No one can tell if Rendon is in a slump or on a hitting streak.
"It's unbelievable," Knorr said about Rendon. "For a young kid like that, the way he goes about his business, it's incredible. He never gets excited, he is always laughing. He never gets excited. He is smiling, he is laughing. He has a good time, he has the ability—at a young age—to get past at-bats."
Nats teammate Adam LaRoche also noted the young player's demeanor on and off the field, noting that nobody can tell if Anthony went 4-for-4 or 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
LaRoche said it also helps that Rendon has a spiritual, Godly nature, and knows there is a bigger picture than just making money in MLB.
"He has a great perspective and outlook on life," LaRoche said. "Whether you want to believe it or not, it absolutely translates onto his performance on the baseball field. For young guys that come up, this is life or death. This is all they ever dreamed about and they are going to do everything they can do not to screw it up. It can consume guys and actually drag them down.
"With Rendon's outlook on life, he has a lot of fun doing it. Whatever happens, happens. That is a pretty good recipe for an All Star-caliber player."
Anthony credits his parents for being cool, calm and collected. In fact, they have a deal where they don't talk baseball.
"They are both the same way like me," Rendon said about his parents. "You can't let anything get to you. There is always tomorrow. They also taught me to be humble. They are not very loud people. They are quiet like me." (Ladson - mlb.com - 7/3/14)
- Rendon doesn't get flustered, because he doesn't take the game out of context. Even when he suffered shoulder and ankle injuries before he was selected in the first round of the 2011 draft, Rendon felt the Lord was with him, but he also realized the game could be taken away from him at any moment.
"I'm taking it day by day, not trying to do too much, not trying to think about the future. I just take the day at hand," Rendon said. "God blessed me to be able to come back and just keep playing more and more. So I guess I'm trying to stay right, keep my head on straight."
Hitting coach Rick Schu said, "He has been so consistent for us, grinding every day and getting big hits. With the game on the line, he will give you a quality at-bat."
Regarding Rendon's defense, Astros scout Hank Allen said, "He has good hands, good reaction, good reflexes. His footwork is outstanding, whether he plays second base or third base," Allen said. (Ladson - mlb.com - 7/3/14)
Rendon is one of those guys who would just like to slip under the radar and just play baseball.
Don't get the wrong idea, Anthony loves playing in front of large crowds, but he doesn't want it to get to the point where he is a rock star like LeBron James.
February 2016 Q&A on his wishes:
1. Starring in a Taylor Swift music video.
2. Eating an entire Krusty Krab pizza.
3. Playing with Ken Griffey Jr.
4. Starring alongside Ken Griffey Jr. in a Taylor Swift music video centered around Krusty Krab pizza.
5. A marathon game of Pictionary.
April 1, 2016: Rendon had the time of his life at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. There he was, playing pickup baseball with a bunch of scholar athletes. Rendon played on the field for the most part, helping the kids field ground balls and catch fly balls. For Rendon, playing with the kids was unreal. It was little over a decade ago when he was playing pickup games as a kid in Houston. Now he sees some of the kids at the Academy wearing Rendon jerseys.
"It was amazing [with the kids]. You saw me smiling. I was running around with the kids. I was even racing a couple of them. I better watch out," Rendon said.
Rendon didn't go to the Academy alone. He brought along teammates Bryce Harper, Michael Taylor, Joe Ross, Blake Treinen and Ben Revere. To say the kids were happy to see their baseball heroes is an understatement. They were thrilled.
Harper was a first-base coach for one of the teams, giving baserunning tips to some of the kids and pointing others toward second base. Harper even guided some of the kids toward home plate as they scored a couple of runs.
"[Getting the teammates out here] wasn't too bad. You know, it's tough, because it's early in the morning, being there's a game at night," Rendon said. "But they know the cause behind it. They know how much of an impact they can make, especially on the platform that they all have."
In 2016, Rendon was named the National League Comeback player of the year by the MLB.com writers.
Aug 10, 2017: Rendon is one of the familiar faces leading events to promote youth activities and involvement in baseball. He relishes participating in events like the one when the 2017 National PLAY campaign made its way to Nationals Park.
The event, featuring children ranging from ages 5-12, promotes the importance of children living a healthy lifestyle and disability inclusion. The children rotated through stations, some educational and some designed to let them play a little baseball, for about two hours prior to the night's game between the Nationals and the Marlins.
These are the kind of events Rendon, who is a frequent visitor to the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, takes part of as he feels it's his chance to give back.
"I definitely do enjoy it," Rendon said. "I do love kids. I always thought like, 'Why not?' I'm fortunate enough to be in this situation [to] play baseball, and whether I like it or not, kids do see me on TV and all of us on TV. So like I did, watching basketball or baseball, I looked up to other athletes, and they probably do the same thing. There's kids out there that like me, so why aren't I taking the time to give back to them? If they adore me or they look up to me, just to whatever extent, I've got to show them that I care about them as well."
Once the baseball action began, the children were split into a few stations: Sammy Solis took a group into the bullpen for a pitching station; strength coaches Matt Eiden and and Brett Henry led an agility station; Rendon and athletic trainer Greg Barajas did some infield work; and Ryan Raburn and head athletic trainer Dale Gilbert took fly balls with one group.
"Just getting them off their couches and away from video games," Rendon said. "Just good to promote activity. Obviously that's what it's for." (J Collier - MLB.com - Aug 12, 2017)
Anthony says he kept his 2017 offseason routine the same, which undersells a couple of major changes that took place during the winter. He got married in November 2017; he volunteered his time with the non-profit organization Rebuilding Together to help rebuild a home in Houston devastated after Hurricane Harvey; and the most notable change Nationals fan will be able to see this year—he cut his hair for the first time since 2016.
"Oh, man, it was just too long," Rendon said. "It was too much to maintain. I either got to put product in it or I got to wear a hat. So I was kind over it. It was too curly." Other than the change in appearance, Rendon had every reason to want to keep everything the same after the best season of his career in 2017.
Rendon enjoys feeling comfortable. Perhaps he would prefer to keep things routine, just like how he feels his offseason went. "It was the same thing," Rendon said. "We worked out in the morning, golfed in the afternoon, laid on my couch. I didn't really do too much. I try to keep it simple." (Collier - mlb.com - 2/22/18)
July 26-29, 2018: Rendon was on the paternity list.
July 29-31, 2018: Anthony was on the family medical leave list. Rendon had been away from the team on the paternity list when his wife, Amanda, gave birth to their first child, Emma.
July 2019: Rendon was selected to play in the NL All-Star Game but was replaced by Max Muncy due to injury.
NATIONALS YOUTH BASEBALL ACADEMY
July 15, 2019: It’s Anthony's turn to pitch, so he strolls out to the middle of the field. He’s wearing blue shorts, a grey V-neck T-shirt and a backwards cap, and he keeps his sunglasses on the entire time. He can hardly hide the wide, toothy smile on his face as he grabs three yellow rubber baseballs. A little boy from an adjacent field runs up to the chain link fence, still wearing a batting helmet, and presses his face into the fence.
“Hi, Mr. Rendon,” he screams, and before Rendon even has time to even realize where the voice is coming from, the little boy rushes back to his field, returning to his place in the on-deck circle again.
Later that night, the American League will beat the National League, 4-3, in the All-Star Game in Cleveland. Rendon was invited to the game for the first time in his seven-year big league career. And yet, here he is, 400 miles away in southeast D.C., spending the day at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.
“Why y’all on the bench?” he calls to the dugout.
About 20-25 of the Academy’s scholar athletes are on the field with Rendon, and it’s far from an organized game or even a scrimmage. But it’s clear the kids are having a blast, and so is Rendon.
One little boy jumps in front of Rendon on the mound to uncork a pitch on the ground. Rendon waits to throw another pitch because a boy is lying down in the on-deck circle. At one point, Rendon looks behind him and realizes his defense has abandoned him. When one kid gets too far off third base, Rendon tries to pick him off, and the kid sprints toward the plate.
“Where’s my catcher? Where’s my catcher?” Rendon yells as the kid slides in safely ahead of the throw home.
“You've got speed,” Rendon says after the play, offering a fist bump to the kid as he regains his breath. “You've got speed. I like that.”
On Twitter later that night, the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy posted pictures of Rendon’s visit, with the caption reading, “No place he’d rather be.”
It’s not that Rendon didn’t appreciate being named an All-Star. He joked about not wanting to go, and almost openly campaigned against himself when he was named to the now-obsolete Final Vote in 2017. But as the game drew closer, he began to reconsider. Doubt began to creep into his mind: “What happens if you don’t make another one?” Teammate Ryan Zimmerman encouraged him to experience it at least once. Rendon realizes now that if he was fully healthy, he would have wanted to go, but also acknowledges that it’s not necessarily the scene for someone trying to fly under the radar or relax for a few days.
Since coming back from the injured list with a bruised elbow on May 7, Rendon started 58 straight games for the Nationals, including the first three out of the break. For more than a month, he has been playing through a left hamstring/quad injury. Yet his production has hardly suffered during this stretch. Rendon deserves as much credit as anyone for helping the Nationals climb out of their early-season hole.
And he’s heard about how busy the schedule for players can be at the All-Star Game—the events and appearances, the media day, the Home Run Derby, the parade, all the extra stuff he usually goes out of his way to avoid.
“I think that’s where it gets messed up,” Rendon said, leaning on the back legs of a chair inside a conference room at the Academy. “I love the game of baseball. Like I love playing, I’m just not good at—I don’t enjoy the media part of it. I don’t enjoy all the different aspects that come with it, like the business side of it. If we can, like, be in the backyard playing baseball, I’d be the happiest kid in the world.”
Only a handful of people in the world can do the things Rendon does on a baseball field. And yet he still feels uncomfortable when people treat him differently because of it. He’s skeptical even of the Academy kids who claim he’s their favorite player: “It’s like brainwashing. I’m sure all they hear is ‘Rendon, Rendon, Rendon.'"
When Rendon was seven, he tagged along to an Astros game with his older brother David’s Little League team at the Astrodome in Houston. Rendon remembers waiting around with everyone for autographs. Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio both passed by without signing that day, but Bill Spiers stopped for the crowd. Rendon admits he didn’t really know who Spiers was then, but it stuck out to him how excited everyone around him suddenly became. Whoever this guy was, he must be important.
“Give him something to sign,” someone told Rendon.
“I don’t have anything,” Rendon responded, and then he grabbed the only thing he could think of: the hat he was wearing from his Little League team, the Marlins. Spiers grabbed the hat without seeing who gave it to him and then he paused, dumbfounded.
“A Marlins hat? Who gave me a Marlins hat?” Spiers said.
“I was like, 'I’m sorry,'" Rendon said. “It’s all I have.”
Rendon still has that signed Marlins hat. He laughed as he considered how he would react in present day if someone came to Nationals Park and gave him a Marlins hat to sign. And yet all these years later, that memory still sticks with him.
“Thinking back to times like that is when I know I can have an impact on kids,” he said. “And realizing and having this understanding that I’m a professional baseball player, people are going to look up to me, whether I like it or not. I’m going to get recognition, I’m going to bring attention, so I might as well do it in a positive way instead of really just climbing under a rock, like I want to [do].”
In the summer of 2015, then-Nats shortstop Ian Desmond introduced Rendon to Tal Alther, the chief executive officer of the Nationals Youth Academy. Desmond had been the Nationals’ player rep at the Academy, but he was in the final year of his contract in Washington and the writing was on the wall that he wouldn’t be returning to D.C.
So Desmond recruited Rendon.
It caught Rendon off-guard. He’d been to the Academy a couple of times before, and he was a fan of its goals: to use baseball and softball programs as a way to drive academic achievements, develop character and improve health of the children in surrounding and often underserved communities in D.C. But he never considered getting involved at this level.
“I really just think that we’ve got to have a positive influence on kids in general,” Rendon said. “And really understanding people are going to look up to me, so why aren’t I doing something to be positive about it?”
So he makes visits to the Academy several times throughout the year. He and his wife, Amanda, have made financial contributions with little to no publicity. He recruits other players to come with him when he can. He got nearly the entire team to show up during player day.
“There are children who have connected with him in a way such that that’s their reason for coming here,” said Jennifer Cartland, the executive director of the Academy. “He has taken the time to also be their friend, be their mentor, be their coach, be their guide -- and for many of them, that is going to be something that sticks with them not only throughout their time here at the Academy, but for the rest of their lives.
“[For] Anthony and Amanda, it’s one thing to write a check, it’s a completely different thing to come and spend half your day in the heat, on-field, with 100 children. They kind of walk the walk and talk the talk.”
And there is the uncomfortable truth for Rendon and for everyone at the Academy. This is the final season of his contract with the Nationals, and with each passing day, he is drawing closer to free agency. His agent, Scott Boras, made waves with his visit to D.C. before the All-Star break, when he met with Ted Lerner, the Nationals founding principal owner. Boras downplayed the visit, pointing out that he has a number of different clients with the Nationals, but Rendon’s contract was among those topics discussed.
Both the Nats and Rendon are on the record that they are open to an extension, and Rendon still seems optimistic they will eventually get a deal done. The Nationals made an offer to Rendon during Spring Training, but the two sides were far apart at that point. That offer came shortly after Nolan Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with Colorado, and Rendon’s camp believed they had a case that Rendon should get something comparable.
Going through the year with the potential of free agency looming hasn’t felt too different for Rendon, but it has made him think about the future a lot more often. One thing he hadn’t considered until recently, however, was that he would need a replacement at the Academy. A few weeks ago, one of his teammates quipped “don’t even think about putting it all on me.”
“It’s human nature to not help,” Rendon said. “And you want to plan your future. You want to have the best life for your family. You want this, this and this. You want your kid to go to the best schools or whatever, so your mind races and your mind can’t help but think best-case scenario or worst-case scenario.
“Have you heard the Tom Brady interview from 60 Minutes?"
Rendon is referencing Brady’s appearance on the show in 2005, when at 27, Brady had just won his third Super Bowl championship. Steve Kroft asked Brady, "What’s next? What else is in store?"
"I think . . . God, it's got to be more than this," Brady said. "I mean, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be."
That stuck with Rendon. It reminds him of how fleeting it can all be, how happiness is this target constantly in motion.
There was a point when baseball used to define Rendon. But once you’re in the big leagues ...
“All right, I made it. This is it,” Rendon said. “What’s next? Can I get called up to the moon league? Is there another league I can do? It’s like I kept trying to fill something inside of myself to make me happy.”
"Content" is the word he uses to describe himself now. He and Amanda are happy now in Washington, and he would be happy to work out an extension, but he also told the Washington Post last month that he wouldn’t have hard feelings if things don’t work out. Wanting to stay in D.C. doesn’t mean he’ll take a contract for less than he’s worth, but it’s also not entirely about the money. He mentions several times he could walk away from it all right now, in the prime of his career, and be perfectly at peace.
“Because of her,” Rendon says motioning to his daughter, Emma Kate, who is crawling around the conference room. “You stink. Did you poop?”
Emma can barely keep her eyes open in her stroller as the Rendons walk toward their car after spending a few hours at the Academy, and they are prepared to fight traffic on their way back home.
It doesn’t take long for the walk back to the car to get interrupted.
“You wanna race?” a little boy wearing a Sammy Sosa jersey said to Rendon.
“I don’t wanna embarrass you in front of all of your friends” Rendon replied with a laugh.
“Anthony,” another young boy rushed up to tell him. “I threw a ball all the way up on the roof once.”
“Mr. Rendon, can we take a picture?” another little girl asked.
It’s the first of a few selfies he’ll stop and take before he gets back to the car.
Losing Rendon on the baseball field could have huge implications for the Nationals, who don’t have a natural replacement in the organization for Rendon. It would be the second year in a row they have let a marquee position player go to free agency, with Bryce Harper now playing for the division-rival Phillies.
But Rendon’s connection to the Nats Youth Academy is another factor to consider with how much could change if he is wearing a different uniform next season.
“We’re very hopeful that everyone recognizes that not only is this someone who is a tremendously talented athlete, but this is a person of high character, and a person that we would want to have representing Washington, D.C., and the Nationals,” Cartland said. “So I’m hopeful. I know that I say that on behalf of my team … We’re going to be cautiously optimistic and deeply hopeful that he’s going to be someone to engage with for many years to come.” (J Collier - MLB.com - July 15, 2019)
2019 Season: While no one knew how the Nationals would perform after the departure of Bryce Harper, Rendon's MVP-caliber season left no doubt that he was up for the challenge. Rendon set career-highs in almost every offensive category, hitting .319 with 34 homers and driving in an MLB-leading 126 runs.
In addition to his defensive prowess on the other side of the ball, Rendon's success has helped the Nationals make the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
Nov 14, 2019: Rendon placed third in 2019 NL MVP voting, with Cody Bellinger winning it.
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Nationals Rendon was named the first team 3rd baseman.
Dec 14, 2019: With his wife, Amanda, by his side and his 16-month-old daughter, Emma, in his arms, Anthony Rendon made it clear at his introductory press conference at Angel Stadium that family played a pivotal role in choosing to sign with the Angels. Rendon said he got a sense for the Angels family after hearing how much owner Arte Moreno and his wife, Carole, wanted Rendon to join the franchise. Moreno told agent Scott Boras in a one-on-one setting that Rendon was one of his favorite players and that signing him was a priority, which came as a surprise given the Angels' need for pitching and their interest in right-hander Gerrit Cole, who ultimately agreed to terms with the Yankees.
"The fact that Arte and Carole were adamant about reaching out to Scott and saying that they really wanted me to be a part of the Angel organization means so much to me and my family," Rendon said. "To have that respect, to feel wanted and to want someone to come and be part of your family. That was the one important thing we always talked about when trying to look for an organization we wanted to head to or stay at was a family atmosphere. Somewhere we can plant our roots, build a foundation and just grow our family together."
Rendon, a Houston native, said he was initially reluctant to sign with a team from Southern California, but after spending more time in Orange County, he found it to be much different than the vibe in Los Angeles, as he prefers to lead a low-key and private lifestyle with his family. The 29-year-old said it was a reason why he didn't consider the Dodgers as seriously as the Angels.
"I think when people think about California, they think of the straight Hollywood, that glamour lifestyle, whole bunch of flashes and so much paparazzi," Rendon said. "But everyone just said it's the complete opposite down here."
Rendon's production, however, speaks for itself, as he was the top position player available in free agency and he has long been one of the game's underrated superstars. Boras was quick to point out that only two position players in baseball have registered at least six Wins Above Replacement in each of the last three seasons, and that it's just Rendon and his new teammate Mike Trout.
"[Rendon is] someone that embodies a lot of the characteristics we like in our players," general manager Billy Eppler said. "When he's playing the game, he's calm and cool and just very measured. He doesn't get too high and doesn't get too low. He's obviously an impact player so we're happy to get him here."
Moreno explained he's long been a fan of Rendon, even dating to his college days at Rice University from 2009-11, as Moreno's friend was the athletic director at Rice. The Angels were in on both Stephen Strasburg and Cole, but once they both signed elsewhere, the Rendon deal came together quickly in less than 24 hours after Cole agreed to sign with the Yanks.
"I had the name early and then watched him with Washington," Moreno said. "Really what he can do, historically, the way he's played, his background, just really felt it would be a great fit for what we're trying to accomplish here."
Rendon, fresh off winning the World Series with the Nationals, was brought in to help the Angels in their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014. Rendon slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 homers and an NL-leading 126 RBIs in 146 games with Washington last season while also playing elite defense at third base.
Rendon, though, said part of the reason why he signed was because he was told the Angels are still looking to add more pieces this offseason, especially with the rotation and at catcher. Eppler said they could add up to two more starting pitchers, but likely not two free agents, as one would have to come via trade in that scenario.
But the Angels do have some payroll flexibility even after signing Rendon, as he reportedly has a backloaded contract that will pay him $25.5 million in 2020, which is almost $10 million below his annual average value of $35 million. It means the Angels are roughly only $10 million over last year's payroll and have roughly $40 million-$45 million before they hit the projected luxury tax, per Cot's Contracts.
The Angels remain interested in free agents such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel, while they have also been mentioned as potential trade candidates for Boston's David Price and Arizona's Robbie Ray.
"There is still some room for us to be able to operate," Eppler said. "One of the things we have to look at is how it impacts the payroll this year and if it's a longer-term deal how it manifests in the '21 and '22 seasons. We are still able to engage in this marketplace and see where this takes us." (R Bollinger - MLB.com - Dec 14, 2019)
- June 2011: The Nationals chose Rendon in the first round (#6 overall), out of Rice University in Houston, TX.
He signed on the August 15 deadline, receiving a four-year deal worth $7.2 million with a club option.
January 15, 2016: The Nats and Rendon avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract for $2.8 million.
January 13, 2017: Anthony and the Nationals again avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year, $5.8 million deal.
Jan 12, 2018: Rendon and the Nationals avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $12.3 million.
Jan 11, 2019: Rendon and the Nationals avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $18.8 million.
Oct 31, 2019: Rendon chose free agency.
- Dec 11, 2019: The Angels and Rendon agreed to a seven-year deal worth $245 million.
|Birth City:||Richmond, TX|
|Draft:||Nationals #1 - 2011 - Out of Rice Univ. (TX)|
By the age of 3, Rendon was hitting a tiny ball with a little bat. Later, he and his brother used a slender “tent stick.” By 10, he’d met the only hitting coach he’s ever had. “Willie Ansley. He was the Astros’ No. 1 draft pick in 1988,” says Rendon, who’s from Houston, proudly. Twenty-five years later, Rendon was up the number 6 overall pick in the draft.
Anthony has cleanup hitter potential. While he is not physically imposing, has remarkable strength in his hands and wrists, uncanny hand-eye coordination that allows him to delivery the barrel of the bat to the ball. And he has outstanding plate coverage and exceptional pitch recognition. He consistently drives the ball hard to all fields and projects as a well above-average hitter with plus power.
"A lot of people go up there (to the plate) and think about what they're going to do. I just hit. I relax and don't think about anything. I just want to hit the ball as hard and as far as I can," Anthony said.
Rendon has a superb, tension-free swing, with excellent hip rotation and strong, quick hands. He taps his front foot twice and gets it down a little late, but everything about Anthony's transfer and swing is quick and forceful enough that it doesn't seem to affect him vs. pitchers.
He has good plate coverage and can shorten his swing to square up on a ball in his hitting area. His bat speed and ability to barrel balls give him more usable power than all but a very few players in the game!
"I have that little flick of my wrist at the end of my swing. I feel like that's where I get the most bat speed. I get my hands to the ball good, and then when I actually make contact, I'm flicking my wrists," Rendon said.
He has such quick, easy wrist movement that it looks like he is hitting at half-speed until the ball zooms off his bat.
And Rendon has just got to be the best "bat-check-swing" hitter in the game. He never gets a strike called on a checked swing. So quick.
Anthony has razor-sharp pitch recognition and patience at the plate. He has an excellent eye. He says he can see the difference in seams between a college ball (they're raised) and a pro ball (they're flat).
Rendon is incredibly good at adjusting from at-bat to at-bat. He adapts to how he is being pitched.
Anthony watches a lot of game video.
April 22, 2013: Rendon's double was his first Major League hit and RBI, a shot into the gap in right-center, which gave him a key run-scoring hit in his first career home game. The rookie said he'll always remember that first hit. He already had the baseball, which was sitting on a shelf in his locker. "It's the one thing you're going to treasure the rest of your life," Rendon said of that first hit.
Astros' scout Hank Allen gushes about Rendon. Whenever Rendon is at the plate, Allen sometimes forgets to take notes on Rendon, because Allen is in awe by what Rendon has been able to do at the plate. In fact, Allen has gone so far to say Rendon will not only win a batting title, but will be a perennial All-Star.
"I love him as a baseball player," Allen said. "He appears to have a plan when he comes to the plate. He doesn't try to overdo anything. He takes what the pitcher gives him. You pitch him inside, he'll take a look, he'll see what the pitcher's best pitch is. If they are pitching him a certain way, he'll adjust to it. As he gains more experience, as times goes along, he is going to become a better hitter than he is right now." (Ladson - mlb.com - 7/3/14)
October 4, 2014: Rendon became the first player for either the Nationals or Expos to pick up four hits in a playoff game. Only two Nats had posted three-hit games: Kurt Suzuki and Ian Desmond (twice) in the 2012 NLDS. Tim Raines and Gary Carter also accomplished the feat for Montreal during the 1981 playoffs.
"Anthony can hit. He has a beautiful stroke, and he's real quiet about it," manager Dusty Baker said. "Everything he does is not in a hurry, and everything he does, it seems like the game is slow to him. Other guys, it seems like the game is too fast for them, but he has the ability to slow the game down. Whether it's at third base or whether it's at the plate." (Collier - MLB.com - 3/29/16)
April 30, 2017: Anthony couldn't remember having this kind of day at any level of his baseball career. But his record-setting performance helped pave the way for the Nationals' offensive outburst in a 23-5 victory against the Mets.
Rendon went 6-for-6 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, setting a new Nationals franchise record for most RBIs in a single game and shattering his career high of four. Only two players in MLB history have ever had six hits and driven in 10 runs in game, Rendon and Walker Cooper, who did it for the Cubs in 1949, although Cooper went 6-for-7.
"High school, I had three home runs, but that's high school," Rendon said. "Not the RBIs, I don't think." In the first inning he knocked in a pair with a two-run single off Mets righthander Noah Syndergaard. Rendon hit a solo homer in the third inning and a three-run homer in the fourth, both off left-hander Sean Gilmartin, to notch his first career multi-homer game. Then in the fifth, Rendon just missed a grand slam off righthander Fernando Salas as the ball traveled 388 feet but bounced off the wall in right-center field.
The double gave Rendon nine RBIs on the day, breaking the Nationals' franchise record for RBIs in a game after four players had recorded eight. Rendon realized he must be in the midst of something special, which was only confirmed when Stephen Drew approached him on the bench. "I think he told me, 'That's a record! I'm glad I was here to watch it,'" Rendon said. "That's when I knew for sure."
Rendon singled again in the seventh, but Daniel Murphy was unable to score from second on the play. But Rendon delivered the exclamation point for his day in the eighth with a solo homer off Mets third-string catcher Kevin Plawecki to drive in his 10th run of the day.
Rendon became the 13th player in MLB history with 10 RBIs in a single game and first since Garrett Anderson in 2007. The Major League record for RBIs in a single game is 12, achieved by Jim Bottomley in 1924 and Mark Whiten in 1993.
After the game, six cans of beer had been placed on the floor by Rendon's locker—one for each hit. In his locker sat the ball from his ninth RBI and the ball from his homer from the eighth inning, which had been marked with his final stat line.
"That was ridiculous," righthander Joe Ross said. "I was pretty impressed when Trea [Turner] hit for the cycle the other day. I mean [Rendon] had six hits and three homers. I don't think he'll ever do that again. I mean, it's pretty ridiculous." (Collier - mlb.com)
The first thing anyone mentions about Anthony are his hands. Then you shake one, cavernous and workman-like, and it swallows yours whole.
"For me, they are how I can control the bat," Rendon said, his right hand clamped over the barrel of his Marucci maple bat. "I don't have 250 pounds coming from my frame. If I can manipulate this barrel, I can be successful."
The hands are what helped make Rendon the top collegiate hitter out of Rice University in 2011. They allow him to swing a 33 1/2-inch, 32-ounce bat, a top-heavy weapon with the -1.5 weight distribution typically reserved for more lumbering sluggers (weight distributions of -2 or slightly more are more common).
This year, those hands are driving a personal improvement that has Rendon playing the best baseball of his career. His slash line of .289/.390/.528 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs through 66 games were all career-high marks and are on pace to pass his previous career-best marks. (Trezza - mlb.com - 6/22/17)
April 13, 2019: Rendon’s double marked the 10th consecutive game he has recorded an extra-base hit, setting a new Nationals club record (2005-present) that surpassed Ryan Zimmerman’s nine-game streak from 2017. That’s also the longest streak in all of baseball since the start of the 2018 season.
August 21, 2019: For the second time in his seven-year career, Anthony Rendon has reached the 100-RBI mark for the Nationals. Rendon's 100 RBIs matched his career high, a mark he previously reached in 2017. He required 35 fewer games to accomplish the feat this time around than he did in 2017 (112 to 147).
Aug 26, 2019: Rendon was the National League Player of the Week. Rendon earned the Award for the second time in his career and the first time since 2017 after hitting .483/.543/.793 with two homers, three doubles and seven RBIs over seven games last week. He's the second Nationals player to receive the honor in 2019, along with Max Scherzer.
The 29-year-old Rendon has hit safely in 12 straight games dating back to Aug. 13, and he is one of four qualified Major Leaguers with an OPS of at least 1.000 on the season.
Aug 30, 2019: Rendon collected three hits, improving his latest on-base streak to 15 consecutive games, and his batting average on the season to .333, the best in the NL. He drove in three runs, improving his already career-best RBI total to 107, which also tops the NL. His 158 wRC+ is third in the NL.
And just three players in the league (Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Ketel Marte) have been worth more Wins Above Replacement than Rendon, who missed 14 games earlier this year with an elbow injury.
In 2019, Anthony tied for the NL lead in doubles with 44. And he led the Majors in RBI with 126.
2019 Season: For the first time since 2014, a player not named Nolan Arenado has won the Silver Slugger Award at third base in the NL. Rendon was that third baseman in '14, and he is again in '19. Before bursting onto the national stage this October, he added fuel to the already raging debate over whether he or Arenado is the best third baseman in the NL. Rendon posted career highs in all three slash-line categories by hitting .319/.412/.598 with a career-best 34 home runs and 126 RBIs. He led the NL in RBIs and doubles, with 44.
As of the start of the 2020 season, Rendon's career Major League stats were: .290 batting average with 994 hits, 245 doubles, 136 home runs with 546 RBI in 3,927 at-bats.
- Anthony has a real good arm for the long throw across the diamond from third base. And his throws are accurate.
Rendon's reactions in the field are exceptional. His body control is very impressive. He has great hands.
Watch his hands. He makes it look like he never gets a bad hop, because his hands are so soft and quick.
- He can slow the game down. He has good reads and instincts for the game.
Rendon makes lots of bare-handed plays, then throwing the ball to first in one motion and getting an out.
He also dives to his right to stop a ball, then throws across the diamond from his knees to nail a baserunner.
- Anthony has drawn comparisons to David Wright, Evan Longoria, and Ryan Zimmerman.
- Rendon has enough athleticism to play second base, where his outstanding baseball instincts help him make up for any shortcomings.
Midway through the 2013 season, the Nats had Anthony work at second base with the Syracuse Chiefs, so they could get him in their lineup in Washington. Davey Johnson recalled making the switch.
"It's very important to learn footwork," he said. "It took me probably two months to where I didn't have to see the bag. I became comfortable with coming from that angle. You need to be able to get to the bag, know where it is, then go to the ball, step toward the ball, make your pivot and without looking down at the bag and putting your foot on it. Because all that takes time and then also, fundamentally, if you peak at all and don't have position, then you get hung up and you really get hurt. So the transition is important and footwork is important."
Syracuse manager Tony Beasley also came in handy in helping Rendon make the transition.
"I think Beasley can help him a great deal about what's required of him over there," said Johnson. "Beasley knows his way around that bag real well and he'll be able to help him. So, if he's playing down there in games, he won't be at risk."
By 2014, Rendon was displaying good hands, good reaction and good reflexes. And he has outstanding footwork, whether he is playing second base or third base.
- Except for one game in 2019, Rendon has not played second base since 2015. (Baseball-Reference.com - Oct 2019)
- Anthony has average speed and runs the bases well.
- Rendon steals a handful of bases each year. (2019)
June 2009: Anthony tore ligaments in his right ankle while chasing a fly ball in foul territory.
July 2010: Rendon was caught in a run-down between first and second base after he singled and the pitcher tried to pick him off. Anthony attempted to cut back toward first base to avoid a tag, and his right leg appeared to get caught underneath him. He winced, then rolled onto his chest and pounded the ground a few times with his right hand. His foot was bent at an unnatural angle.
- 2011 college season: Anthony strained his throwing shoulder and played very little in the field the rest of the season.
April 7-August 7, 2012: Rendon suffered a minor fracture in his left ankle while running the bases after hitting a double, then trying to score on a bloop single by Potomac teammate Justin Bloxom. Anthony went down after rounding third base.
- June 2013: Anthony had his wisdom teeth removed, and he lost 15 pounds.
March 10-June 4, 2015: Rendon missed part of spring training and the first two months of the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Anthony was hurt making a diving stop in a game against Atlanta on March 9.
Then, in May, he was diagnosed with a strained oblique, after playing in only three minor league games in Harrisburg.
June 25-July 25, 2015: Anthony was on the D.L. with a left quadriceps strain.
April 22-May 5, 2018: The Nationals placed Rendon on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 19, with a toe contusion.
April 27-May 7, 2019: Rendon was on the IL with left elbow contusion, a move that comes nearly 10 days after Rendon got hit in the elbow from an errant pitch from Marlins starter Jose Urena on April 20.
- Aug 7, 2019: Rendon left the game in the sixth inning of the 4-1 victory over the Giants at Oracle Park for precautionary reasons after getting hit by a pitch in the right foot during the fourth inning. On a 2-2 pitch, Rendon was struck by an errant slider from lefthander Andrew Suárez. Rendon was slow to get up at first, but he eventually hobbled down the first-base line, and he continued to play his position for an inning. After his toe began to feel sore, Rendon was replaced.