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Anthony Rendon just 15 hits away from a feat not accomplished in D.C. in more than 50 years

Anthony Rendon just 15 hits away from a feat not accomplished in D.C. in more than 50 years

Anthony Rendon is competing against himself for the National League batting title.

His toughest competition? A sidelined Christian Yelich. 

Yelich remains second in batting average, four points behind Rendon, and rooting on his surging Brewers teammates while unable to play. A foul ball broke Yelich’s kneecap seven days ago. His numbers remain gaudy: 44 home runs, 30 stolen bases, an 1.100 OPS and, most important to Rendon, a .329 batting average.

None of those numbers will change, yet they will chase Rendon. He could slide back from his current .333 average and dip below Yelich. 

The Nationals have 13 games to play. Rendon averages 3.8 at-bats per game, which means he has around 50 at-bats to go. In order to become the first Washington player since Mickey Vernon in 1953 to win the batting title, Rendon needs 15 more hits. He would then finish at .330.

Vernon debuted as a 21-year-old in 1939. He hit .257 that year. Vernon missed his age-26 and age-27 seasons because of military service (1944 and 1945) before returning to lead the league in hitting with a .353 average, the best of his career, in 1946. He also doubled 51 times on the way to a top-5 MVP finish. His second batting title arrived in 1953 when Vernon hit .337. That’s the season Rendon is looking to put his name next to.

Vernon’s .337 was a comparatively down number for a batting champion, but would hold up well in this era. Of the 117 American League-leading batting averages since 1901, only 28 had a lower average than his .337 (Washington was in the AL then). Flip to the modern National League. Vernon would have at least tied for or led eight of the last nine seasons.

No National League player has hit .350 since Chipper Jones hit .364 in 2008, when he played just 128 games and narrowly made it into the qualifying threshold. Jones went 2-for-3 during the season’s final week that year, rarely playing for a Braves team out of contention. Albert Pujols finished second at .357.

The same trend exists in the American League. Two hitters -- Joe Mauer (.365 in 2009) and Josh Hamilton (.359 in 2010) -- exceeded .350 in the last decade. In the previous 10 years, it happened five times, plus Manny Ramirez hit .349 (yes, it was that era). So, instead, take the AL in the 1980s: six times the batting champion his .350 or better. Not so anymore. Even with this new ball.

Rendon doesn’t need to hit that threshold. He just needs his 15 hits, a stagnant Yelich not to flip ahead of him and Ketel Marte, now a distant third at .326, to hold his place. Then, he is next to Vernon.

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Report: Dodgers are interested in Anthony Rendon in free agency

Report: Dodgers are interested in Anthony Rendon in free agency

Surprise, surprise. The Dodgers are interested in bidding for one of the Nationals top free agents once again.

This time, they are reportedly in on pursuing Anthony Rendon this offseason, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman

If you're thinking 'why would the Dodgers pursue another third baseman when they already have All-Star Justin Turner?' Heyman also reports that Turner has offered to change his position if necessary to bring in Rendon. 

ESPN's Buster Olney joined the Nationals Talk podcast earlier in September and thought that L.A. would make perfect sense for Rendon. 

"They are, to me, a team to watch cause Rendon is exactly the type of player that Andrew Freeman, their head of baseball ops there, values in on-base percentage and being a well-rounded hitter and being such a serious professional," Olney said. "Keep in mind, Justin Turner's got only one year left on his deal so Rendon could be the next third baseman." 

A lot about Rendon's destination and needs are unknown during this offseason. The third baseman is relatively brief with the media and a down-to-Earth type of player that does not strive for pomp and circumstance surrounding him. 

Earlier this season, the Nationals reportedly offered Rendon a seven-year, $210-$215 million deal. Roughly that is a $30 million average annual value, around the value Manny Machado got with the Padres a year ago. Machado's contract is second for third basemen, only behind's Nolan Arenado's eight-year, $260 million.

Last offseason the Dodgers were heavily invested in trying to lure Bryce Harper to L.A with a short-term deal. Clearly, they were unsuccessful. 

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Scott Boras addresses the futures of Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg at annual GM meetings

Scott Boras addresses the futures of Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg at annual GM meetings

Two of the Nationals biggest stars from their 2019 World Series run, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, are now on the free-agent market and happen to have the same agent. That would be Scott Boras, who has dozens of clients, including former Nationals' outfielder Bryce Harper, and is known for getting them large contracts.

At Major League Baseball's annual general manager meetings in San Diego, California, Boras spoke to a crowd of reporters, addressing both player's futures in Washington.

"Any player that wins a world championship enjoyed where they played, what they did," Boras said. "These guys were truly in the oceans of the playoffs. Strasburg sank many championships."

"Rendon was a star in the playoffs, had an MVP type season," he continued. "Those environments there are great for him. He's built a throne there."

Boras mentioned that when going through the free agency process, it's important to address the comfortability that the player had with his previous organization.

"You look at them and say, 'are they comfortable there?'" Boras said.

Boras gave credit to Washington, emphasizing their drive to win and the winning culture they have built in the nation's capital.

"The ownership there is a place where players win at," Boras said on the Nationals. "They've been committed to winning, and it certainly creates a viable spot for all of them."

While Boras is saying everything Nationals fans want to hear, many of them will be on edge until either Rendon, Strasburg, or both commit long-term to the organization again. Otherwise, this 2019 World Series team will just be a flash.

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