Age on Opening Day 2016: 25
How acquired: 1st round pick, 2011 draft
MLB service time: 2 year, 130 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $2.5 million
Contract status: Possibly Super-2 arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2020.
2015 stats: 80 G, 355 PA, 43 R, 82 H, 16 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB, 36 BB, 70 SO, .264 AVG, .344 OBP, .363 SLG, .707 OPS, 4 E, 3.6 UZR (at 3B), -1.8 UZR (at 2B), 0.3 WAR
Quotable: "Anthony will be good. It's just a question of a few days." — Matt Williams, March 13, on Anthony Rendon's knee injury. Rendon didn't make his season debut until June 4.
2015 analysis: On the heels of a breakthrough season that saw him finish fifth in NL MVP voting, expectations were sky-high for Rendon. Then a seemingly innocuous knee injury suffered in spring training completely derailed him for 2015. What eventually was diagnosed as a sprained MCL sidelined Rendon until early June (an oblique strain suffered during his rehab assignment helped delay his return) and then only three weeks later he landed back on the DL with a quadriceps strain.
Rendon never did find a consistent groove, vacillating between a hot couple of weeks and then a slump. He was hitting .289 on September 16 but then went 9 for his last 58 to see his season-ending numbers slide a considerable amount.
Rendon's year didn't go according to plan in more ways than one. After bouncing between second and third bases in 2014, he figured to settle in as the everyday third baseman in 2015. But his spring training injury prompted the Nationals to move Yunel Escobar to the hot corner, and by the time Rendon was healthy the club didn't want to make another change. So he wound up starting 59 games at second base, only 19 at third base.
2016 outlook: The rose has come off the bloom somewhat after this disappointing season, but there's still no denying Rendon's ability to be one of the best all-around players in baseball. But he'll need to avoid the nagging injuries that prevented him from finding any level of consistency this year.
The Nationals acknowledged Rendon should be their regular third baseman in 2016, so that move should be permanent. It also should be beneficial to both the individual and the team. Rendon is far better defensively at third base than second base, and perhaps the mere knowledge he'll be able to stay at his natural position will allow him to focus more on his offensive performance.
The Nats' new manager also would be wise not to use Rendon out of the leadoff spot. Matt Williams didn't have much choice late this season, but Rendon's skills just don't translate all that well to the No. 1 spot in the lineup. A full season batting second seems to be best for him and the Nationals.
One other thing to watch this winter: Rendon's contract status. Though he has fewer than three years of big-league service time, he may have accrued just enough to qualify for arbitration as a "Super-2" player. (MLBtraderumors.com projects the Super-2 cutoff to be at 2 years, 130 days, which is exactly where Rendon currently stands.) If he qualifies, Rendon could see his salary spike, though regardless he still won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season.