Anthony Rendon made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals as a 22-year-old in 2013, and since then he developed into one of the most important figures in the history of their franchise.
He capped off his time in D.C. by winning the World Series in 2019 as a 29-year-old, which was one of the younger starters in a lineup that also featured veterans Ryan Zimmerman, Kurt Suzuki, Howie Kendrick, Adam Eaton and Asdrubal Cabrera.
After winning the World Series, he signed with the Los Angeles Angels to a seven-year, $245 million contract and so far the returns have been somewhat mixed. In 2020, he continued to perform at an MVP-level before struggling with injuries in 2021.
Now in 2022, he has had somewhat of a rebound from 2021, but he also wants his value to extend more off the field. Rendon is trying to be a leader for the Angels, who have many young players, and wants to install a winning mentality into all the players, he said via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“Unfortunately, a lot of those guys in there haven’t won,” Rendon said of his Angels teammates. “I think that’s part of what I need to do now in these next four to five years, is I need to help teach this organization, teach these guys on how to freaking win games. How do we get there?
“We had a lot of older guys. We were the oldest team in 2019. I shut up and watched them the whole time. But now, I’m one of the older guys … it’s my job and my duty to teach these guys because I’m not going to be here forever. When I leave, hopefully that’s going to stick in their minds, and that’s what’s going to matter most.”
So far, the early returns have been good on his quest to help the Angels establish themselves as a winning ballclub. They are currently first in the American League West and third overall in the Al with a record of 18-11.
Rendon’s veteran presence is also being noted by Angels manager Joe Maddon, who is thankful to have the third baseman mentoring the younger players:
“He’s got a good way about him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He kind of talks like it’s a slow method. But it’s really well thought out. And that’s how he talks to other guys. I see him sitting at tables in the food room, and I know what he’s doing, and I think it’s great.
“So he recognizes that — he does. In his own quiet, non-pretentious way, he wants to give back. And he does. And I like the way he does it.”
Along with his contributions in the clubhouse, Rendon has played solid defense at the hot corner while producing above league-average offense. The 31-year-old is only hitting .202, but he has still managed to reach base at a solid .318 clip, which has helped him produce a 105 wRC+.
Of course, the Angels would like to see more offensive production out of him, but at least they know he will provide more value than what he puts on the field.
Taylor Ward breakout fueled by change in approach
This season, Taylor Ward has been performing as one of baseball’s best hitters after a few disappointing seasons. Among players with at least 80 plate appearances, his 248 wRC+ and .512 wOBA each rank first, and his six home runs ties him for 13th in the league despite having around 20 fewer plate appearances than everyone else around him.
Although Ward has changed his batted ball profile since his debut, he says his breakout has been fueled by a change in his mindset and approach at the plate.
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