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We continue our long-running series of articles debating fantasy rankings with a player that managed to stay healthy enough to post his first 100-RBI season and is now one of the top third baseman on draft boards.

RotoBaller's expert writers have come up with our consensus rankings for mixed leagues, but that doesn't mean we agreed on everything. In this space, we'll hear from rankers with the biggest differences of opinion on a well-known player and have them defend their position against each other.

Today, the topic is Washington Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon. Harris believes a repeat of 2017 will be no problem, whereas Pierre believes he isn't far ahead of several of his position peers. Let's get ready to rumble!

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2018 Draft Rankings Debate - Anthony Rendon

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Pierre Jeff Harris Bill
47 4 Anthony Rendon 3B 47 51 69 45 46 54

 

Harris Yudin's Ranking: #46 overall

I’m not sure there’s a flaw in Anthony Rendon’s resume. He hits the ball hard (34.3 percent), he hits the ball in the air (47.2 percent), he doesn’t chase bad pitches (21.0 percent), and he doesn’t miss pitches in the zone (92.6 percent). He contributes significantly in four categories (25 HR, 81 R, 100 RBI, .301 AVG), and can occasionally sprinkle in some value in a fifth (12 SB in 2016).

Rendon was one of five players last year to hit 20 home runs while walking more than he struck out (Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, Justin Turner). He hits in a potent Nationals lineup for a new manager in Dave Martinez who, who knows, might actually bat him in the top half of the order this season.

He plays a position that, despite being undeniably deep, is utterly lacking players who both hit for power and reach base at a high level-- at least ones that could be available beyond the top two or three rounds.

While he may not be as valuable as the Kris Bryants, Nolan Arenados or Josh Donaldsons of the world, over the last two years, Rendon has more than held his own against some of the league’s best at the hot corner.

Rendon is also one of just five players with a .300/.400/.500 slash line and 25 HR last year-- alongside Trout, Votto, Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman, all of whom are being drafted in the first two rounds. While these numbers are relatively arbitrary, it’s an impressive feat nonetheless. And if you expand those parameters to .290/.390/.490 and 20 HR, you still end up with eight guys with an ADP in the top 24, plus Rendon, Turner and Tommy Pham.

Fantasy owners who pass over Rendon in favor of, say, D.J. LeMahieu (Pierre’s 58th-ranked player, no power or speed, OBP 29 points lower) will regret it pretty early on.

 

Pierre Camus's

Ranking: #69 overall

I'll begin by confessing that my ranking of Rendon is a bit lower than I realized, but upon further review it's justified. The other thing is I have no idea how DJ Lemahieu snuck into my top-60, but that will be remedied in our next update. That said, I have some reservations that make me slightly less optimistic about a repeat of Rendon's 2017 output, especially given the depth at his position.

First of all, Rendon's breakout last year was surprising in the sense that nobody was sure he could stay healthy in consecutive seasons. He's missed 176 games in his first five years in the majors, accounting for nearly 22% of his time as a National. That alone isn't enough to knock him down draft boards, but it can't be ignored completely.

Rendon's year-end totals place him in the upper echelon of fantasy third basemen, but he showed a propensity for great streakiness that created a love/hate relationship among weekly head-to-head owners. You probably well know by now that he accounted for three home runs and 10 RBI in one game against the Mets (of course it was the Mets). That doubled his total for the entire month preceding that game. He would go on to drive in eight more runs that week alone, then go 12 games without a single RBI before knocking in eight in a two-game span. If you can live with this bewildering inconsistency, then discount this argument altogether.

The main reason Rendon doesn't belong in the top 50 is the tremendous depth at the position which Harris alluded to earlier. A full 25 picks after Rendon's current NFBC ADP of 57.45, you can secure perenially-underrated Justin Turner, who hit 21 points higher at .322 last season. At an ADP of 93.87, you could have a player who produced more HR (31) and RBI (101) in Travis Shaw. With an abundance of young, potential breakouts like Rafael Devers and Joey Gallo, or dependable power hitters such as Jake Lamb, Kyle Seager, Mike Moustakas and Miguel Sano, it would be fruitless to reach on a third baseman whose numbers aren't much better all-around.

Fangraphs' Jeff Zimmerman simply points to this year's projections to wonder aloud why Rendon is being taken so high, as I have.

If you believe the best is yet to come for Rendon and he will manage to stay healthy and improve on last year's numbers, by all means you should make drafting him a priority. Given the fact he posted a career-high 12.3% HR/FB and is also likely to see slight regression in his 1.02 BB/K that looks like a huge outlier, I'll hedge my bet and take another equally talented player at the hot corner much later.

 

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