Checking in on Anthony Rendon

When guys get a stint in the big leagues and then head back to the minors, it’s easy to forget about them.

You don’t see a guy every day, don’t get a chance to watch him perform, you lose track of him a bit.

Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.

Anthony Rendon is playing well enough back at Double-A Harrisburg that it’s worth discussing how he’s performed.

Since returning to Harrisburg after a brief stint in the majors, Rendon has played 12 games. In that time, he’s 18-for-44 with three homers, six doubles, 10 RBIs, nine walks and 10 strikeouts.

That’s a slash line of .409/.509/.750.

Yeah, pretty decent numbers, I guess.

The offensive side of the ball is one thing. The defensive side is another.

In those 12 games at Harrisburg, Rendon played third base in 10 of them, and second base twice. On the season, Rendon has played in just four games at second base. He’s had only 15 balls hit to him.

For those who are calling for Rendon to be brought up and given a shot as the Nationals’ second baseman, he simply hasn’t had enough time at that position yet. That’s a transition that takes some time.

Manny Machado, a career shortstop, came up to the Orioles last season and became the O’s starting third baseman. He had played just two games at third base in the minors before getting that assignment.

Third base, however, is a position that relies much more on reactions and less on footwork and agility. Sure, Machado had to make adjustments to a new position at the big league level, but at third base, those adjustments were mostly about positioning and timing.

At second base, a player needs to deal with footwork around the bag when turning double plays. Rendon is comfortable playing shortstop, so he knows how things work around the second base bag from that perspective, but he needs to learn how to avoid runners barreling towards him from the other side of the bag and how to avoid possible injury.

For a guy that has had multiple major ankle injuries, it’s crucial that Rendon gets proper form down at second base before the Nats even think about utilizing him at that spot at the big league level. Last thing the organization wants is their top prospect being out for another lengthy period of time because his form around the bag was subpar.

Is it possible we see Rendon playing second base for the Nationals at some point? Sure. Might it be sometime in the not-too-distant future if Danny Espinosa continues to struggle? That’s a possibility. But that time isn’t quite yet.

The Nationals want to continue to let Rendon develop, both as a hitter and on the defensive side, before they call him up for good.

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