Since he’s stopped stealing bases, Anthony Rendon is far from a flashy pick in fantasy baseball. However, there’s safety in security, and Rendon has been a nice safety blanket for fantasy baseball owners in recent seasons. We’ll get to more on that a little later, but in the power department, it was another solid year for Rendon. His nine home runs last year was good for a home run every 21 at-bats, and while that was a slight step back compared to his 16.0 mark in 2019, it was right on par with 2017 (20.3 AB/HR) and 2018 (22.0 AB/HR). Even without stealing bases, Rendon is a high-quality fantasy asset and not tearing the league on fire has suppressed his price in 2021. Love that.

His walk rate was up in 2020 and his strikeout rate remained on par, so that’s good. Now, he made less contact out of the zone, which one would think might be good, meaning he made more contact in the zone, but that’s not quite the case.

As you can see, the trend line for chasing and whiffing on fastball has steadily increased for the most part since 2016, while breaking pitches threw him in a loop in 2020. The argument here is that this spike is an outlier, considering it was a steady decrease over the couple of years before that. This mark should regress a bit in 2021, which bodes well for Rendon. In theory, if he can lay off these out of the zone offerings, his walk rate could jump a bit, his strikeout rate should decline and higher contact rates. That sounds positive to me!

On the other hand, his barrel rate was considerably lower last year, as it was nearly cut in half from 2019 and exactly four percentage points lower than 2018. Prior to those years, it’s comparable, but two good years with a double-digit barrel rate is enough for me to expect Rendon to remain around this mark. When you look at the following graphic, there’s a couple things that need pointed out:

  1. His barrel rate against offspeed pitches jumped through the roof, but he saw this offering of pitches just 7.8 percent of the time last year, which is his lowest mark since 2013 (7.7%)

  2. Barrel rate tanked against fastballs, and his .455 slugging percentage against fastballs was his lowest mark since 2015.

  3. Barrel rate dropped against breaking pitches, and his .451 slugging percentage against breaking stuff was lowest since 2016.

  4. This isn’t on the graphic, but exit velocity against breaking pitches was the lowest of his career by nearly three miles per hour.

He punished offspeed pitches, so any return to normalcy against fastballs and breaking stuff will vault Rendon’s numbers.

It was mentioned earlier, so we’ll mention it now. No more beating around the bush! Rendon isn’t a flashy pick, but his consistency is valuable in its own right, and he’s a player with a pretty high floor. He hit at least 20 home runs each year from 2016-2019 and was on pace for another 20+ home run season if we didn’t have the shortened campaign in 2020.

From 2016-2019, only 5 players posted a walk rate of at least 11 percent, a batting average of .299 or higher and at least 100 home runs. Those players were as follows: Christian Yelich , Mike Trout , Mookie Betts , Freddie Freeman and Rendon. The first four guys are top 15 picks while Rendon is currently pick number 42, per NFBC data. He’s currently the sixth third baseman off the board and the major knocks against him are that he doesn’t run anymore and he’s not a flashy pick.

There’s nothing in his peripherals that indicates he won’t return to his previous levels and have a productive 2021 with around 30 home runs, 100 runs scored, 100 RBI and a batting average .280. There’s a very clear path to that stat line with the talent around him in that Los Angeles lineup. If there’s any positive take away from the 2020 season, it’s that it has presented a nice buying opportunity for former top 20-25 picks in fantasy baseball. Rendon is one of them. He’s not the flashiest pick, but he’s damn good, and is an anchor for your team in all but one category.


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