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Showdown: Anthony Rendon vs. Rafael Devers

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: March 5, 2021, 1:34 pm ET

To celebrate both baseball's return and the launch of our 2021 MLB Draft Guide, we're going to be taking looks at what we have to offer all the way up to Opening Day. With a loaded arsenal of content -- from positional rankings, ADP reports and season-long projections, to mock drafts, projected lineups and draft cheat sheets -- we are as proud as we've ever been of what we've put together and are eager to share it with you in the coming weeks. No matter the format or size of your league, we are confident we can deliver the tools you need to secure that championship hardware.

Today, we'll be giving you a look at the guide's exclusive Player Showdown column series with the below excerpt from the third basemen.

Anthony Rendon vs. Rafael Devers

Rendon

I’m willing to overlook some of Devers’ struggles from last season, as there was quite a bit of small sample noise across the league. However, if you are going to make an early investment at third base, you better be sure about your choice. And it doesn’t get much safer than Rendon. The 30-year-old got off to a bit of a slow start to begin his Angels’ tenure last year after dealing with an oblique injury toward the end of summer camp, but he caught fire in early August and never looked back. In fact, he slashed .333/.435/.573 with eight homers over his final 40 games. That’s right on part with the MVP-type numbers he posted in 2019. Rendon’s plate discipline is among the best in the game, so there’s every reason to think he’ll post his usual strong batting average while being a valuable contributor in homers, RBI, and runs scored. Sure, we’re pretty confident Devers will bounce back, but why take the chance when Rendon is as reliable as it gets? – D.J. Short (@djshort)

Devers

Devers had one of the strongest seasons of any third baseman in recent memory in 2019, slashing a robust .311/.361/.555 with 32 home runs, 129 runs scored, 115 RBI and eight stolen bases for good measure. That’s unbelievable five-category production -- and he did so as a 22-year-old. During the truncated 2020 season, Devers saw his production dip -- primarily due to a significant drop in contact rate and a rise in strikeout rate. It was also a case of a terribly slow start, as after August 16 he was the same guy that he was in 2019 -- slashing .307/.350/.573 with nine homers and 38 RBI in 36 games. Meanwhile, Rendon also took his offensive game to new heights in 2019, setting career bests in batting average (.319), runs scored (117), home runs (34) and RBI (126) while swiping five bases. The major question is how repeatable is it? Entering his age-31 season, Rendon only swatted nine homers and drove in 31 runs over 52 games in his first season with the Angels in 2020. He also didn’t even attempt a stolen base. He’s probably a favorite to post a higher batting average than Devers, though it’s likely the Red Sox’ third baseman bests him in every other category. Give me the 24-year-old rising superstar with massive five-category upside in an extreme hitters park over the 31-year-old with no stolen base upside, limited power potential and who hits in the pitcher-friendly confines of Angel Stadium. – Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)

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