Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Anthony Rendon to the Angels - Fantasy Impact


Anthony Rendon's seven-year, $245 million contract may not match that of newest Yankee Gerrit Cole but it does equal former teammate Stephen Strasburg's deal and includes a full no-trade clause with no opt-outs, options, or deferred money. Regardless of results, the new marriage between the Halos and Rendon is set in stone until 2026.

Rendon's contract makes him the highest-paid third baseman in the Majors based on an AAV of $35 million that edges out Nolan Arenado. Of course, a huge payday in a huge market makes for huge expectations. Or as P-Diddy might say, "mo' money, mo' problems."

Fresh off a World Series win and a career-best season, Rendon would seem primed for the challenge. The consummate professional who rarely displays emotion on the baseball diamond, Rendon's demeanor and work ethic are certainly not issues to be concerned about. Fitting in with a new team for the first time in his seven-year MLB career in a new league and a less hitter-friendly park, as well as the possibility of regression to his career averages could be. Let's see how Rendon's move to L.A. could affect his fantasy stats and how the Nationals can try to fill the massive hole left in the middle of their lineup.

Editor's Note: Get our 2020 MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our draft kit, premium rankings, player projections and outlooks, our top sleepers, dynasty and prospect rankings, 20 preseason and in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research and tools. Sign Up Now!

 

A Season to Remember

Statistically speaking, Rendon's 2019 season stands out as a career-best in nearly every category that matters. He slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 HR, 126 RBI, and 117 R. Always known for tremendous plate discipline, he posted the second-best BB/K of his career at 0.93 with a 12.4% walk rate that was 20th and a 13.3% strikeout rate that was 15th-best in the majors among qualifiers. He drove in more runs than anyone else, posted the fifth-highest offensive rating of any hitter at 46.5 and had a 7.0 WAR that was good for seventh on the offensive leaderboard. All this combined with the fact that the Nationals earned a Wild Card berth that led to a miraculous postseason run made Rendon the third-place finisher in MVP voting.

As far as Statcast goes, he placed in the top-40 in both Barrel rate and Hard-Hit rate. He also posted a .319 xBA, .599 xSLG, and .418 xwOBA that were all in the top 2% of the league. Check out his rolling xwOBA over the course of his career and you'll see that there are no flukes here in terms of performance.

I'd be remiss not to mention his playoff heroics, as he batted .328 and drove in 15 runs in 17 games, including eight in the World Series. He almost single-handedly defeated the Astros in a must-win Game 6 with five RBI and then homered again in Game 7 to help clinch a title. Rendon was definitely going to cash in whether he stayed in Washington or departed, as he wound up doing. It's well-deserved to be sure, but the question is whether the outstanding performance from last season is repeatable.

 

Lining Up Next to Trout

The first reaction most people have had to this signing (aside from disappointed Nats fans) is that Mike Trout finally has some help! The last time the Angels opened up their wallets this wide was eight years ago to a future Hall of Famer named Albert Pujols. There won't be any side-by-side comparisons here, though. Besides being different players in different timeframes, Pujols was already 32 years old in his first season with the Angels. Rendon is in the midst of year 29. Pujols also had accumulated almost twice as many career plate appearances up to that point in his career, stepping to the plate 7,433 times with the Cardinals while Rendon has 3,927 PA in the bigs.

Rendon should slot in at his usual third spot in the lineup behind Trout, who batted second in every single start last year. It's not as if Trout needed a boost to his fantasy value but this added protection should quell any possible concerns about the lineup around him. It could also keep him from running as much as we'd like but that's for another article...

Rendon should easily have enough RBI opportunities to match his 2019 total with Trout ahead of him on base. The likes of Shohei Ohtani, Justin Upton, and Albert Pujols behind him should be comparable to Juan Soto, Ryan Zimmerman, and Victor Robles in terms of ability, if not youth. Unlikely as it seems given his gaudy stats from a year ago, Rendon's final R+RBI output shouldn't take a hit, especially now that he plays in the American League.

The move to a new ballpark always must be accounted for, especially when one's previous home was particularly hitter-friendly. In this case, it holds true that Nationals Park was seventh in HR Park Factor for right-handed batters at 108 while Angel Stadium of Anaheim was 16th at a below-average 98. That factor, coupled with a 14.9% HR/FB rate that is 4.5 points higher than his career average could lead us to speculate that a couple fewer balls will leave the yard for Rendon in 2020. Given his outstanding hard-hit and barrel rates mentioned earlier, that concern shouldn't lead us to a projection lower than 25 HR, which is just two above his three-year average from 2016-2018.

Hard as it may be to believe, it's impossible to find any hole in Rendon's game at the plate. His home average (.317) was nearly identical to his road average (.321), his second-half average (.336) was even higher than his first half (.304), and he hits better against the shift (.346) than without it (.322). If you want to try poking a hole in the Angels' proposed lineup, it could be that it is too right-handed dominant. A top of the order with Fletcher/Trout/Rendon/Upton/Pujols would make five in a row to start things off. Realistically, Tommy La Stella or Luis Rengifo should man second base against righties and Pujols will hit sixth with Ohtani or Brian Goodwin in the fifth spot. It doesn't really matter, as Rendon predictably has no disadvantage against lefties (.316) or righties (.320) and will drive in whoever is on base. The Angels seem poised to finish better than last year's middle-of-the-road offensive performance when they tied for 15th in runs scored.

 

Where Does This Leave the Champs?

The high from Washington's unexpected championship run may not have worn off completely but the focus has already shifted to 2020. GM Mike Rizzo admitted that the team couldn't afford to keep both Strasburg and Rendon, which proved to be true. They still have one of the most formidable rotations in the game, which in and of itself will keep them in contention. The offense now becomes the question mark.

Third base has a gaping Rendon-sized hole to fill. A top-flight free agent like Josh Donaldson could minimize the impact of Rendon's departure but he seems likely to sign elsewhere at this point. After him, there aren't any options even close to comparable. They may have to target a second baseman and move Kendrick to third base, hoping he can hold up over the course of a full season, which he hasn't done for the past three years. The other option could be to move prospect Carter Kieboom to 3B to get his bat in the lineup and see if he's ready to handle Major League pitching. He makes for a nice late pick in early best-ball or draft-and-hold formats. The Nats also have to decide if they want to re-sign any of Brian Dozier, Matt Adams, or Asdrubal Cabrera to round out the roster but none of them have appeal even if they return.

Trea Turner aside, their starting lineup could have three players age 22 or younger (Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Carter Kieboom) and four players over 30. They will rely on Turner and Soto to carry the load and hope that Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick can hold up over the majority of the season. Rendon's MLB-leading RBI totals are a result of his clutch hitting, which is simply impossible to replace.

It seems unlikely that Washington will finish sixth in total offense like last year and that could leave highly-drafted players like Soto and Turner delivering a slightly lower ROI than expected, seeing as how both are currently top-12 picks in NFBC drafts.

 

2020 Outlook

Rendon was already considered among the safest early-round picks at third base and corner infield in general before the 2019 season. Fresh off a career year, he enters this offseason as the #20 overall selection in early drafts and could see his ADP climb even more as the Angels round out their roster to attempt a return to relevance. Fantasy drafters need to decide whether Rendon seems likely to continue his offensive ascent up to his age-30 season or if last season will prove to be his peak.

We've seen players get bogged down by the expectations that come with living up to a massive contract. This would seem out of character for Rendon but we don't truly know how he'll adjust to the west coast or the increased pressure yet. It might be prudent to expect numbers that are comparable to 2019 but a bit lower initially as he faces a new crop of opposing pitchers. He should not fall beyond the second round in 12-team leagues though, as his sustained measures of discipline, composure, and reliability have made him a bedrock at the hot corner and a top-10 asset in points leagues.

More 2020 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

Wide Receiver VOS (Values Over Starter): 2019 Season In Context

The one (and only) good thing about fantasy football season ending is that we have plenty of time to analyze what happened during the past few months and put performances into context to prepare for next season. As football is an ever-evolving game, though, it makes sense to assess how good players were in fantasy... Read More


The King's Keeper Corner: NFL Postseason Impacts on Player Outlooks

With a break in the postseason NFL action, it is time to reflect on what we have seen in the playoffs so far and how certain performances will affect fantasy football outlooks in keeper and dynasty formats. How players respond and what they deliver at the most intense and critical times of the season can... Read More


Introducing Value Over Starter Football Metrics

When it comes to fantasy sports, we're always looking for the highest possible Return On Investment or ROI. This concept is easy to understand: in both Daily Fantasy and re-draft/fantasy leagues, ROI would come down to how many points a player returns relative to his salary, or the price you paid (given his ADP on... Read More


Biggest Breakouts of 2019: Quarterback

2019 was a very interesting season of fantasy football, to say the least. It's safe to say no one was banking on the season that we saw from Lamar Jackson but he wasn't the only one to stand out. At the quarterback position, we saw some really exciting players start to shine and some older... Read More


Goodbye Runners, Hello Pass-Catching RBs: 2019 Season Trends

As the 2019 summer kept going we all had two things in our minds with regard to September's fantasy drafts and both of them were related to running backs: Where in the world are Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon and when will they be back? It made sense back then (and it still does now,... Read More


Where Does 2019 Rank Historically Among ADP Movers?

I have worked on a season-review series of articles in which I have analyzed the biggest winners and losers in terms of ADP entering draft season compared to the end of the year final results. It was plenty of fun looking back at the gambles most of us took which ultimately paid off, but also... Read More


Biggest Busts of 2019: Tight End

2019 was not the record-breaking season for tight ends 2018 was. San Francisco’s George Kittle (most receiving yards for a TE in a season) and Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz (most receptions for a TE in a season) did not break the records they set last season, although both were fine for fantasy players. Kansas City’s Travis... Read More


Rushing Quarterbacks Are Becoming Necessary

The 2019 fantasy season is over. We are all thinking about what to do come 2020 draft day. So let me ask you something. What if I offer you the chance of drafting a quarterback who is a lock to finish the season with 270 fantasy points? Would you take him and make him your... Read More


Biggest Breakouts Of 2019: Wide Receivers

As we enter the initial phase of offseason activities you have recently completed a painstaking process of creating and managing rosters, with the goal of winning fantasy championships in 2019. Now, many of you have already shifted your focus toward planning your drafts in Best Ball and redraft leagues, while others are contemplating how you... Read More


Tight End ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward their owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More


Running Back ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, a sure-fire player is expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they end up as a season-long dud, though,... Read More


Biggest Surprises of 2019: Tight End

The 2019 NFL season was anything but predictable. I mean, the Tennessee Titans made the AFC title game! Andrew Luck retired right before the season! [Insert one of many, many other things here, because all lists need three items but I couldn't decide between all the possible third options.] One position where things at the... Read More


Wide Receiver Risers and Fallers: 2019 Season Review

We continue our series covering the biggest risers and fallers of 2019 with the wide receiver position. I'll look at both 2018 and 2019 statistical outcomes from every player, contrast their performances, calculate differences in each category and come up with the most prominent names going forward. This past season, receivers didn't dominate in fantasy,... Read More


Wide Receiver ADP Winners and Losers: 2019 Season Review

I've always believed that it is easier to lose a fantasy championship than to win it on draft day. It makes sense, as sure-fire players are expected to reward his owners with a lower risk-factor than the other way around and thus they're always drafter earlier. If they put up a season-long dud, though, you'll... Read More


XFL Fantasy Football Rankings (Preseason)

As of this writing, there is exactly one month until XFL regular-season action begins. On February 8, the latest upstart professional league will kickoff (again) with spring football. It goes without saying that we hope it goes better than the first time, back in 2001, and lasts longer than the AAF. Before you settle in... Read More