PHILADELPHIA - It will go down as a solo homer in a 3-2 loss, but Anthony Rendon's sixth-inning longball got the Nationals back into last night's game and added to what has quietly been a really strong first full big league season.
After last night's action, Rendon now is hitting .276/.336/.461 on the year, with 17 homers, 69 RBIs and 93 runs scored.
He's played in 126 of the Nats' 130 games, trailing Ian Desmond by one for the team lead in that department, and his 563 plate appearances is most on the roster.
Not only has Rendon impressed with his production, he's impressed with his durability and ability to avoid the streakiness that a 162-game season can often lead to. Rendon appeared in just 43 games in his first professional season in 2012 due to an ankle injury, then played in 134 games between Double-A Harrisburg, Triple-A Syracuse and the majors last year.
He's nearing that total already this season, but even as the games keep piling on and we get deep into August, Rendon has remained a constant, steady performer.
"His health is good. He's maintained his strength," manager Matt Williams said last night. "He's maintained his weight, which is good. If he hits the ball, it's got good carry. Tonight, he got one in on the label a little bit and just got it over, but he's able to drive the ball to the middle of the diamond and to right-center, as well. He's been a pleasant surprise to say the least. He's been really good for us."
Williams marveled earlier in the season at Rendon's power, one area of his game that has really taken a step forward this season. Rendon showed up to spring training having added weight and muscle, and as Williams notes, that strength has remained throughout the season.
We hear talent evaluators rave about Rendon's quick wrists, how he can drop the barrel to a ball on the inner-half and drive it to left. But the Nats also love Rendon's pop to the opposite field, love that he can take a pitch and shoot it to right-center with power.
It may be his first full major league season, but Rendon has proven he's on the right track.
"I like his swing. I like how he hits," Wilson Ramos said. "Good swing, power. He will hit a lot of home runs in his career. That's good for him. An amazing player."