It's starting to look like Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon has arrived. After showing some promise during his rookie season, Rendon has taken things to the next level his second time around the league. Through 71 games, Rendon has hit .272/.334/.470, ranking him among the best players at both third and second base in most Fantasy leagues.
Rendon was drafted with a strong pedigree, but there was some debate over how long it would take him to reach his potential. Few players are called up so soon into their big-league careers, and even fewer perform as stars immediately. In Rendon, the Nationals may have struck gold.
There's really nothing in Rendon's profile that points to his current rate of production being a fluke. Rendon's walk and strikeout rates have moved in the right direction, and he's hit for more power this time around. While Rendon's 11.3 percent home run rate is higher than his 7.2 percent mark last year, it's reasonable to believe Rendon would offer more in the power department as he grew accustomed to the majors. On top of that, Rendon's sample is fairly small, so we don't have a baseline for his home run rate. It's possible Rendon is capable of hitting for this type of power moving forward. He's also been able to increase his fly ball rate, which could indicate he'll hit for more power.
One of things driving Rendon's success has been his ability to take the ball the other way this season. Rendon is hitting .294/.287/.565 when going to center this season, and .344/.344/.541 to the opposite field. He hit for a better average to center in 2013, but his approach to right field has improved markedly. Also, Rendon's slugging percentage to center and to the opposite field has also seen a huge uptick this season.
The only real blemish in his numbers stems from a poor May. Rendon hit just .212/.292/.323 during the month, with just two home runs. It was a far cry from his great April, and probably forced owners to wonder which version of Rendon was for real. Thankfully, for Fantasy owners and Rendon, he's gotten back on track in June. For now, Rendon's May slump looks like he was either out of whack at the plate for a while, or plagued by his .235 BABIP during the month.
At this point, the performance looks real. Given that Rendon was considered the best bat coming into his draft class, it's not hard to look at his performance and cry fluke. The potential was always there for him to succeed, but few expected him to do so this early. The only thing holding him back could be an injury. While Rendon has been healthy this season, he's dealt with various injuries since college, which has kept him from playing a full season.
Fantasy owners who have him now may as well keep him around and reap the benefits. Otherwise, he makes for a nice trade candidate. Given that he plays at two shallow positions, it may take more to get him than most owners want to part with. In keeper and dynasty formats, Rendon is probably already a top-5 option at second and third. The performance has been strong, and there are no indicators he's going to drop off. Owners were wise to stick with him through a rough May.