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Anthony Rendon Impresses as Washington Nationals Stay Afloat

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COMMENTARY | It hasn't been long since the Washington Nationals called Anthony Rendon back up from the minors, but he's already given the team a nice boost and helped it through yet another round of injuries.

After the Nationals mercifully sent Danny Espinosa to the DL to nurse his ailing wrist and .158 average, they called on Rendon to fill in, even though he'd only played eight games at second base in the minors. Aside from a pair of errors during a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins, Rendon has been impressive so far. His line for the year is .308/.390/.404, and he's recorded a hit in every game he's played since he was recalled to play second.

Before his arrival, second base had been an offensive dead zone for the Nats, as Espinosa inexplicably appeared in the lineup game after game. In spite of his injuries, a prodigious strikeout rate of 28.1%, and the lowest OBP in the league amongst regular starters, Davey Johnson continued to pencil him in as if Rendon and Steve Lombordozzi didn't exist. Fortunately, the team finally made a move that looks to be a smart one.

Rendon may be benefiting from a bit of beginner's luck as his batting average on balls in play, according to Fangraphs, is .400, which is 13th-highest in the league amongst players with at least 50 plate appearances. That said, it may be a bit premature to extrapolate on the sabermetrics of Rendon's career so far, given that he's only been in the league for a few weeks.

The bigger positive may have more to be do with Rendon's intangibles than his WAR or BABIP. Having just turned 23 earlier this month, Rendon has shown poise and confidence in his second appearance with the team. Even though he's been called up to start at a position he's barely played, Rendon seems relatively unphased by the whole experience. The fact that he's hitting the ball and playing passable defense on top of that has to add to the Nats' sense of confidence in his future.

While the Nationals haven't been great in June, they've managed to tread water and stay within striking distance of the Atlanta Braves in spite of injuries to Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Ross Detwiler. They rallied behind an inspired performance by Ross Ohlendorf and his 19th-century windup to win two out of three against the Colorado Rockies on the road.

With Rendon giving the Nationals an offensive boost, Strasburg throwing again, and Harper tweeting about his imminent return, fans might finally get a chance to see how good this team actually could be.

John Cannon is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Washington Nationals.
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