The No. 6 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Anthony Rendon made only 326 minor league plate appearances before the Nationals summoned him to The Show just weeks into the 2013 season after Ryan Zimmerman got hurt. While his first trip to the majors was only temporary, the 23-year-old returned to the big leagues for good in early June and took over at second base for the struggling Danny Espinosa.
Rendon got off to a hot start once he was given everyday playing time, batting .301/.352/.460 with 18 extra-base hits in 177 plate appearances before the All-Star break. After that, though, his production fell off, as Rendon batted just .234/.310/.340 over his final 217 plate appearances. Overall, he finished the season with a .265/.329/.396 batting line, 31 extra-base hits and a 69-31 strikeout-to-walk rate in 394 plate appearances.
However, Rendon is likely to offer more consistent production in 2014, if only because last season was the first time he played more than 38 games. In spite of his lack of experience, Rendon’s 17.5 percent strikeout rate mirrored his career rate in the minor leagues, though his walk rate plummeted to 7.9 percent. However, that also only means he has room to improve moving forward.
Additionally, Rendon struggled to the tune of .253/.316/.365 against right-handed pitching last season, which was a steep drop-off compared to his .288/.410/.587 line against righties in 227 minor league plate appearances. Simply put: He’s too good a hitter for that to carry over into 2014.