WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Anthony Rendon isn’t one to analyze ... well, much of anything. Maybe he’ll break down his beloved Houston Rockets’ chances of unseating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA’s Western Conference, or offer a slight glimpse into his rationale for cutting his once-flowing locks of hair.
But he’s not about to get into a deep conversation about the state of his swing, his defense at third base or really anything having to do with baseball.
“Keep it simple,” is Rendon’s mantra. And while that may annoy those who just want to learn more about the 27-year-old and what makes him tick, you can’t dispute the results. Rendon’s laissez faire approach to baseball might not work for everyone else, but it sure works for him.
“I actually just think he goes out there and wants to play the game and has fun doing it,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said. “He’s got a personality on him. He’s quiet, but he’s a funny guy in his own way. And he just wants to come out and play. That’s who he is. I don’t want to change that. He’s been so successful, I just let him do his thing.”
Give the new skipper credit for recognizing an all-important aspect of the job: If something ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Rendon is just fine the way he is. What’s not to like about a guy who last season hit .301 with 25 homers, 100 RBIs, a .403 on-base percentage and .533 slugging percentage? What’s not to like about one of only five qualifying major leaguers who walked more than he struck out in 2017?
“I’m leaving Anthony Rendon (alone),” new hitting coach Kevin Long said. “He’s one guy I’m not going to be able to help out too much.”
Long is the guy who’s supposed to come in and help poor hitters become good hitters, good hitters become great hitters. But Rendon already is great, and he has reached that level not because of intense video work or mechanical tweaks but because he knows how to prepare himself and then trusts himself to do what needs to be done once game time rolls around.
“I try to keep it simple: You see the ball and you hit the ball,” he said. “The plate hasn’t changed in however many years baseball has been played. They still have to throw it over that white part, and I still have to hit it over that white part.”
Now in his sixth big league season, Rendon has found a comfort zone as a player and as a member of the Nationals. He has grown up with this same core group, and that has helped foster a family atmosphere that meshes well with his laid-back attitude.
“I think it helps a lot,” he said. “You want to be around brothers and people you feel comfortable with. And so each and every year being around each other for nine months, we’re going to grow closer and closer just a little bit. And hopefully just one day it clicks.”
Like everyone else in the clubhouse, Rendon knows this group won’t stay intact for much longer. He’s not part of next year’s star-studded free agent class, but he’s only one year behind.
Discussions between the Nationals and agent Scott Boras on a long-term deal haven’t progressed much at this point. Rendon downplayed speculation this winter that he is seeking a new contract now.
“I’m not going to be like: ‘Hey, I want my extension now,’ ” he said. “I’m open to hear about it.”
When the time comes, though, perhaps the Nationals will have an advantage in negotiations. Rendon likes to keep it simple, right? He doesn’t like to overanalyze things, right?
Well, he’s got a good thing going in Washington. Why wouldn’t he want to keep things just as they are?