Anthony Rendon: A 2014 breakout with staying power
Anthony Rendon has outproduced all Fantasy second basemen this season despite his low preseason ranking. Don't expect his trip to the top of the rankings to be a one-year fluke.
Taking a look at the top players at each position in my Fantasy H2H points league, I see a lot of familiar faces. Guys like Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki and Paul Goldschmidt are no strangers to the top of Fantasy drafts. Even Carlos Santana, currently the owner of a small points lead over Jonathan Lucroy, has been the first catcher selected in recent years.
Then I came to second base, where the league's current top scorer is Anthony Rendon.
Rendon wasn't on anyone's radar as an elite option at the second base position this spring. At the site FantasyPros, a group of 72 Fantasy writers had Rendon as the 19th best second baseman, according to the consensus rankings. The most optimistic Rendon backer put him ninth at the position.
Compare that to first base, where Goldschmidt ranked first in consensus and never lower than sixth. Or catcher, where Santana ranked second overall and never lower than 10th. How could we all be so wrong on Rendon?
Part of it is a down year for many of the league's top-rated second baseman. Robinson Cano was the No. 1 option on most lists, and as he's just a few points shy of Rendon in my league, it's easy to envision him topping all second baseman if he had just a few more home runs. Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia have endured very disappointing seasons, Ian Kinsler and Matt Carpenter have been good, but not good enough to claim the top spot.
But even though the climate was there for a surprising breakout player to top all comers at the position, it's Rendon who is making it happen, at least in my league's format (1.5 points per stolen base, so your league may have Jose Altuve atop the list). And he's doing it not by dominating his competitors at any one aspect of the game, but by being good-to-great at everything.
He trails only Brian Dozier and Neil Walker with 14 home runs. His 11 steals don't put him anywhere near Dee Gordon or Jose Alvute, but he still ranks 10th at the position. He's tied with Robinson Cano for the RBI lead, and he owns a slim lead atop the runs leaderboard as well. His .280 batting average can't touch the .330-plus marks put up by Altuve and Cano, but again, it's not a bad number at all.
His peripherals suggest that his success isn't fluky at all. In fact, he has some hidden power that could reveal itself in the form of a home-run surge in the second half, according to Fangraphs.com. If he can cash in and increase his home-run total permanently, we could be looking at a right-handed version of Chase Utley for the next generation of Fantasy teams.
Even with all this success, there could be a buying opportunity available in dynasty or keeper leagues. The owner that ended up with Rendon for a cheap price at the beginning of the year may be willing to cash out and take a huge profit if that owner thinks a regression is coming next season. I believe we have yet to see the best this 24-year-old has to offer. Expect to see him ranked as a top-five Fantasy second baseman in 2015 as well as in the top eight at third base. And unlike what's happened with Kipnis, this is a breakout that should last.
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