By Maddie McNamee
Reading Time: 3 minutes
In the race for the National League MVP award, there is one name that seems to be constantly overlooked: Anthony Rendon. His smile, hair, and humor check off all the boxes for likeable player, but his humbleness may keep him from earning the credit he is due. Rendon is known for doing his best to avoid attention from the media, as he attempts to stay grounded and away from the celebrity lifestyle. However, one can only avoid so much publicity. Rendon’s standout 2017 season is hardly something that should be brushed under the rug, and it is time he is recognized for his MVP worthy talent.
There is no doubt that Rendon faces stiff competition in the NL MVP race. He is competing against as many as 13 other remarkable players, including the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, the Reds’ Joey Votto, the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt, the Dodgers’ Justin Turner and Corey Seager, the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, and the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Of the aforementioned names, three are third basemen, just like Rendon. However, Rendon stands out among those three, against whom he can be directly compared, because of his stellar defensive skills. Rendon led all NL third basemen in fielding percentage (.979) and ranked second in defensive runs saved (15.8).
Of Rendon’s competition, many may believe Stanton should be given the coveted NL MVP award because of his offensive success. Yet, Rendon’s statistics are quite commensurate to Stanton’s. Rendon tied Stanton for first with 6.9 FanGraphs WAR. The difference here is Rendon was able to lead his team to another NL East title, pulling the weight when needed because of several injuries his team suffered. The Marlins were hardly competition for the Nationals this season, even with Stanton. Rendon’s batting average is also higher than Stanton’s, at .301, while Stanton hit .281. Rendon also registered a higher OBP, with a mark of .403 compared to Stanton’s .376. It is obvious Stanton has no match when it comes to home runs, with the 59 he hit this season. However, Rendon’s statistics should also be noted as he finished with 41 Doubles and 25 Home-runs, 100 RBI. He’s not a power hitter, and that is widely known, but it’s quite an understatement to say he did “pretty well” at the plate. Rendon finished 14th in the NL in batting average and 9th in OPS, all while playing in a pitcher-friendly park.
While Rendon clearly can hit, that is not his only claim to the NL MVP title. Not only does he have the bat of a successful player, but also the eye. Rendon dominated when it came to reading pitches, as he walked more times than struck out this season, with 84 walks and only 82 strikeouts. This is a rare and underrecognized statistic, as only four other batters pulled it off this season.
Of those four players, one unfortunately happens to be one of Rendon’s competitors for the title, Votto. The same arguments for Stanton for hitting can be given for Votto. He leads the MLB in OBP and the NL in OPS. He also comes in sixth in slugging, and third in average. He is undeniably an exceptional hitter, even compared to the other NL MVP candidates, but where did that take his team? Nowhere. The Reds were a last place team. meanwhile the Nats finished with the second best record in the NL. Rendon’s exceptional fielding and hitting obviously paid off for his team, but the same cannot quite be said for Votto.
Not only did Rendon rake in impressive traditional statistics, but he also validated his strength as a player through more advanced details. In the NL in 2017, Rendon finished 10th for adjusted batting runs, 10th in adjusted batting wins, 8th in offensive win percentage, 7th in Base-Out Runs Added, and 7th in Base-Out Wins Added, according to Baseball Reference. It is clear Rendon ranks among the top 10 NL players in all aspects, and he stands out even more as a third baseman. In 2017, Rendon ranked first in the NL for Total Zone Runs as 3B and first in fielding percentage as a third baseman.
MVP candidates are certainly looked at for their hitting and fielding, but some analysts also want the title earner to be from a playoff team as well, as it shows the player’s overall successful contribution to the team. Rendon checks off on all three of these boxes, and thus his name should be checked off on the ballot as well. Rendon played a consistent game all season, and he’s one of the most complete offensive players in baseball, with an even better defensive reputation. Few, if any, players in baseball matched his ability to contribute in all facets of the game this season. While he may not love the attention of being an MVP, Rendon deserves it anyway. Last year he may have won Comeback Player of the year, but now it’s time to be NL MVP.