I usually don't have a problem with ESPN's Keith Law, but as a Nationals fan and a baseball writer, I take issue with some comments he made in his SportsNation chat with fans this afternoon. Law was very critical of Washington's Kevin Frandsen for his "controversial" comments calling Anthony Rendon "the best young player [the Nationals] have," saying he was "surprised the Nats didn't just DFA [Frandsen] on the spot."
(Click here for a full excerpt of the question that was asked and Law's full answer.)
Many Nationals fans have taken to the Internet to test out their best insults with Law Thursday afternoon, and while I won't resort to that, I do strongly disagree with him.
Law's issue with Frandsen's comments is that they, in his mind, take shots at Bryce Harper and create controversy. Harper hasn't voiced any malcontent with the sentiments, but even putting his feelings aside, is Frandsen even wrong?
In fact, there's an argument to be made that Rendon has been the Nationals' best overall player to this point. Through Washington's first 34 games, Rendon leads the team in hits (41), doubles (6), RBI (23), home runs (5), runs (22) and triples (3). He's also third in slugging percentage (.518), first among players who have played at least 20 games.
And moving away from Rendon for a moment, Law described Frandsen as "[talking] like a little kid who had never been interviewed by the media before." What's the big deal? Frandsen was complimenting one of his team's star players, and his comments didn't seem to have any critical undertones directed at Harper. If Harper were to take offense to something that minuscule, it shouldn't be Frandsen's issue.
Law went on to call Frandsen "disposable," and while bench players as a whole tend not to carry much value, the 31-year-old has been very reliable for Washington this season. In 26 games, Frandsen has hit .277 and has been versatile on defense, appearing at second base, third base and left field. Considering how much the Nationals bench struggled as a unit last season, they probably don't consider Frandsen "disposable."
I can understand that Law may feel that Harper has a higher ceiling than Rendon, as most people still put Harper in the same sentence as Mike Trout despite his significantly less impressive resume. But that's the problem. Harper hasn't produced nearly as much as Trout, and while he's played in two All-Star Games, he certainly can't be labeled a superstar based only on his production to this point.
In short, if you want to suggest Harper has a higher ceiling than Rendon, that's fine. But to suggest he's the Nationals' best young player at this point in time—the numbers don't exactly support that.
Harper is undoubtedly one of the most electric, exciting players to watch in all of baseball, and his ceiling is sky high. But as of today, he hasn't reached that ceiling just yet, so to dismiss accurate comments about Rendon in such a dramatic fashion is uncalled for.