Nationals Baseball: Rendon is not Bryce

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Rendon is not Bryce

As part of this whole LaRoche saga, one of the underlying themes I'm picking up from some fans is "It doesn't matter if they sign LaRoche.  Morse is fine for next year and they need the infield space for Anthony Rendon when he comes up later this year".  The ascension of Rendon is taken as fait accompli. He will come up, possibly early this year, likely later this year, maaaybe next year at the latest. He will be good.  Bryce Harper was the Nats last hitting star and he's made the transition.  So will Anthony Rendon.

Thing is Anthony Rendon is not Bryce Harper.

Bryce was not just a #1 draft pick, but a consensus, "Bowden would have picked him" obvious choice. In the majors at 19. On the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school.  A player with all the tools who's compared to Hall of Famers. A player that, even though he didn't hit great last year, was a big plus for the Nats because what he did on defense at a tough position (based pretty much on pure athleticism) and what he did on the basepaths. Bryce Harper is a generational talent, meaning we see his like once every 20 years or so. 

Anthony Rendon also arguably could have been a #1 draft pick, even though he went later because of injury concern.  Possibly the best college hitter as a true freshman at 19.  A fine fielder to go along with his great hitting, but not a threat on the basepaths. If Rendon doesn't hit well, his value is going to take a hit, especially if he's playing a corner IF position. Anthony Rendon is a talent you don't see every year but you do see.

When I look at Anthony Rendon I don't see Bryce Harper.  I see Pat Burrell with a glove. (which isn't bad - Pat Burrell had a fine career and would get a lot more praise if he wasn't a DH disguised as an OF most of his career)

Yes yes Rendon rocked the Arizona Fall League in 2012.  But that doesn't mean he'll be rocking the majors in 2013 or even 2014.  Take a look at the AFL leaders in 2010. Which of those guys have had an impressive season in the majors so far heading into 2013? Answer : Maybe Brandon Belt last year.  Ackley had a good half-season in 2011 but struggled mightily last year. Norris never turned the corner at the plate last year. Kipnis looks on the verge with a nice finish to 2011 but was still only ok last year.  Only Belt has had a full season of above average hitting and it wasn't GREAT.

Now if you want to argue the Nats need to clear space for Rendon OR Moore OR Skole... well anytime you add more names to the argument it gets stronger.  But like Rendon isn't Bryce, those guys aren't Rendon. Chances are smaller that they are impact players at the majors.

And let's not forget that Rendon was thought of as an injury risk when he was drafted then he proceeded to get injured nearly immediately to start the season.
I'm not saying that Rendon couldn't be great as soon as the end of this year, but that thinking, or even thinking he'll be starting for the Nats next year, shouldn't be part of any serious plan. The chances are better that he won't be a serious hitter in the majors until a couple years from now, even if he stays healthy which is a big if, and for a team that wants to WIN NOW, you can't give guys 2-3 years to find themselves in the majors and you can't have a hole at first base. It's very likely that they will need to sign a first baseman for 2014.  Be it LaRoche on a deal starting this year, or Morse coming back on a new one, or someone else.


D28 said...

Thanks for another great post!
More and more I'm starting to hope that we'll be seeing Mike Morse back next year.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

Any ideas on 2014 first base options if we go the rout on leaving Zimm at 3rd?

Also, I was advocating the idea that he could still be a major league starter, not guaranteeing he would be a star upon arrival. He's not a sure thing (not like Bryce is/was, but Bryce is/was so talented it seemed inevitable that he would/will find his way in the bigs). So anyways, that's why i felt like financially it wouldn't make a ton of sense. The extra year wouldn't hamstring us, but if you add that to the fact that Rendon was a multi-year college guy it makes it more urgent to want him up since he is a lot older to start with by nature.

And if you're wondering why in the world i have so many "/" its because he still has ways to go from being good to very good to great. But I digress

Positively Half St. said...

Very important reminder, to be sure. It would be very easy to go through all of the "sure thing" prospects from the last several years and see that you are right. Alex Gordon is doing well now, for instance, but he sure didn't advance on the same timeline Ryan Zimmerman did. It is more believable to think that Rendon will be at least an average major leaguer at some point than to expect him to achieve on the timeline most advantageous to the club.


Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

Oh and another thing, keep in mind that over the course of his career, LaRoche has been very average to a little below average at first base based on WAR. So thats another reason I figure Rendon can at least be around league average.

Dr Trea (formerly #werthquake) said...

*war and other measures, such as wRC

Unknown said...

Rendon is, and likely always will be, an injury risk. That said he's also likely to be MLB ready with both bat & glove in '13. Question is what kind of player will he be? Certainly good enough you don't make moves to block him (this is not the case with Goodwin, as the Span signing shows).
now if he does wash out you have possible alternatives in Morse (extenstion), Moore or Skole (doubtful IMO) but its also not like power hitters who can play passable 1B D are hard to find.

Skippy said...

Great post. You should also consider the strength of the lineup that the rising player is going into. Belt will probably have a greater impact in his lineup this year because of the strength of a "healthy" lineup throughout the year versus a changing lineup that was faced the last two years in San Fran. Hypothetically, he can step into the six spot next year and be between Werth and Desmond and see plenty of good pitches to swing at giving him a much better chance of success than Ackley and other listed.

Zimmerman11 said...

It's not my money, so give LaRoche three years if that's what it takes. With injuries almost a certainty w/ this lineup, it seems like a small price to pay. But again, I'm okay if he goes. 25HR, 90RBI... we can get that elsewhere.

I'm also a little skeptical of LaRoche's defensive stats... yes he is very good at digging balls out of the dirt, but he can not have any range over there on ground balls, right?

It is also clear that organizationally, we have options at the corners... Rendon, Skole, Moore, Morse, etc. With Zimmerman locked down forever... I think that it's also right for Rizzo to be thinking two and three years down the road. I can't begrudge the guy anything at this point. Nats are contenders w/ or w/o ALR.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is saying Rendon is Bryce or could make the same transition. Fans are just playing a guessing game for two years from now. If you watched this kid play in college you'd know there was no parallel at that level when healthy (though to be fair, Ackley had similar accomplishments before him). While he could fall off the wagon, he still has the upside to play near Longoria levels, surpassing Longoria's batting success at LBS. Also I think you're selling short Rendon's fielding ability. Yes he could have an Ackley-like rookie year, but he could also follow in Longoria's footsteps. Then again I also firmly believe Ackley will get it together this year.

Anonymous said...

LaRoche certainly has better range than either Morse or Moore at 1b and fields almost everything he gets to. Plus, when you play next to somebody with ridiculous range like Espi, it becomes even less important. ALR's value is corralling the errant throws from the far side of the diamond. I expect him to end up with a 2 year deal with the Nats, which is what I want and I expect us to keep Morse for at least the first few months as insurance. It'll be up to Davey to get AB's for him and Bernardina if nobody gets hurt.

Chaos....and if there were a plethora of power hitting 1b with passable defense the Rangers would have signed one of them already.

Anonymous said...

Say what u will about TYLER MOORE, but he came thru 4 us all year off the bench. I also remember it was him who came thru with 2 outs late n game 1 2 win our 1st postseason game in 79 years. If that isnt making an impact i dont know what is.

Harper said...

D28 - I think that's likely regardless of LaRoche... which should mean an interesting year.

C&S - No good ones. Hope Morneau has a below average year and is willing to sign a one-year contract to prove something? It'll probably be a resign of Morse (will he come back again for just 2 years?) or internal.

And true about LaRoche BUT first base has collapsed a little around him, making him more valuable. Is Rendon more old 1B or new 1B?

1/2St>0 - Yeah, I'm still thinking I like Rendon but I just don't think Nats fans should expect him to be an "impact" bat until 2015. Things can change obviously but that's the way I'm going into the year.

? - "That said he's also likely to be MLB ready with both bat & glove in '13." What makes you say that? I mean there are reasons you can put out there but none to me say "likely"

Skippy - Certainly possible, though that's more a post analysis thing. Could be Davey sticks him at 8th. Who knows?

Z11 - It's not my money is exactly right! And the last sentence too. While I think those committed to winning at all costs would make certain moves that doesn't move NOT making the moves makes you unlikely to win.

Anon #1 - I like Ackley to put it together too. I'm not betting against Rendon as a major leaguer. I'm betting against him playing 120+ games in 2014 and hitting well above average.

Chaos - the Espy thing does make a difference but doesn't everyone want Espy gone now? At this point I also see LaRoche back. I don't see where else he could go. Something thrown in there for year 3 but not a guaranteed year.

Anon #2 - Can't argue with what you say, but I can't argue with the fact the Nats don't seem to be taking him seriously as a 1B candidate this year.

Anonymous said...

I think Espi gets the Desmond pass for this season. Davey will play him every day he can and we'll find out if he can hit. Something in between last year and the year before hitting-wise makes him one of the top 2b in the game. I think he's going to benefit from an even stronger hitting lineup this year. If Ramos returns, it's him vs. Danny for the "prestige" #7 slot 'cause the other's got #8 locked up. There's serious offensive potential to go with the ridiculous SP. has there ever been a 5 SP rotation with at least 15 wins each? I am a HarenFan!

Anonymous said...

LaRoache had the best season of his career,you will not get that again. But he is a better option at 1st than Morse. Trade Morse while he has some value. They played well without Morse at the begining of last year and the allowed the younger players to get some playing time. . That helped the Nationals become a very good team and confident that the bench players could fill in and produce. Nationals now have a very good outfield,great pitching and a strong infield lets not weaken it with a bad 1st baseman. Keep LaRoach for 2 years

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