Dynasty Dynamics: Anthony Rendon, Brett Gardner and Others
There is this old sports adage which gets thrown around a lot, and always holds true until it doesn’t: a player is not supposed to lose a job due to injury. Of course, it’s much easier to lose a job while you’re injured when you were hitting .158/.193/.272 prior to getting hurt like Danny Espinosa was. In fact, the Nationals have been playing him back at his natural position of shortstop, either in anticipation of him filling a utility role at the major league level, or being trade bait to add a piece at the deadline. And the reason why all of this is happening is..
The first time Rendon was called up this season, things didn’t quite go as anticipated. He hit .240 with one extra base hit in 30 plate appearances, and disappeared back to Double-A when Ryan Zimmerman returned from the DL. However, after a promotion to Triple-A, Rendon was given some playing time at second base (not his natural position, to say the least) and the Nationals became desperate enough for an offensive spark that they called him up shortly thereafter.
All Rendon has done since he was recalled from the minors on June 5th is hit .369/.397/.538 with eight doubles, a homer and a steal in 65 at bats. Which brings back up what we know and what we don’t know about Anthony Rendon. We know he can hit–that part has rarely been in question during his amateur and minor league career. The unknown is two-fold: Can he be good enough defensively to be merely a pretty bad second baseman? And can he stay healthy enough for it to matter? Rendon’s dynasty league value will not rise and crash depending on his ability to stick at second base, but there’s no doubt that if he can (at least in the short-term), his value will clearly be increased. If you traveled into the future and came back solely to tell me that Rendon maintained second base eligibility for the next three seasons, I’d bump him up 20-25 spots in my Top 500 (which is being updated for next week. #plug)
Raise your hand if you thought Brett Gardner would hit seven home runs all season. Now raise your hand if you thought he’d have seven before the end of June. I thought so. And the craziest part about this is that it’s not completely unsustainable–there’s a real chance we could be talking about 15 HR hitting Brett Gardner at the end of the season, which would have been just about unthinkable in the preseason. Gardner has now tied his career high for homers, which he set back in 2011 in 159 games. In fact, Gardner had only 24 professional home runs coming into this season–and when I say professional, that’s combined between the majors and minors. In 866 games.
So what’s behind Gardner’s power surge and what does it mean for his value going forward? The number that jumps off the stat page is his fly ball percentage, which is a career high of 36.0%. That’s not only a career high, but nearly an eight percentage point increase over his next highest season in his last four. Which means that his HR/FB rate is not some astronomical numbers–it’s actually 7.9%, a slight increase from his 6.3% in 2011 (his last full season). The downside is that Gardner isn’t stealing nearly as many bases as he has in the past, which is a burn on his value. For a player who you own for speed to have 11 steals through nearly three months (after averaging 48 steals during his last two healthy season), is very disappointing. And if he doesn’t start picking up the pace soon, he’s going to risk losing all of the value he will have gained with this power surge.
- It’s about time we checked back in on Pat Corbin and went “ooooh ahhhh” a little bit more. Going 3-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA was impressive enough, but he’s been even more impressive since. Since May 1, Corbin is 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings. He’s pretty clearly become the best fantasy (and real life) pitcher on the Diamondbacks
- Alex Rodriguez, when he’s not making enemies with his own General Manager, is on the comeback trail and is set to return from the disabled list sometime in mid-July. And for all the circus he brings, don’t forget that he’s also the player who hit .276 with 15 homers and 11 steals in 94 games last year before Felix Hernandez broke his finger. I like his chances of being usable in most fantasy leagues this year and beyond.
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