Breakout or Bust: Can Anthony Rendon Maintain His 2014 Power Surge?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There are certainly people who have their doubts regarding Anthony Rendon and his breakout performance this season.  For a player who didn’t have much power expected of him entering the season, he’s already hit more HR than he did a year ago.  The question everyone is trying to answer is if the breakout is actually for real or not.

No one is going to question his ability to hit for a strong average, as that’s what was expected of him entering the year.  He makes good contact (16.3% strikeout rate) he has upside in the line drive rate (18.9%, though it’s dragged down by a 14.5% mark in May).  Of course he has seen a jump in fly ball rate (42.5%), which helps to explain his improved power.  We’ll get to that point in a bit, but more fly balls could help to limit his average.  It’s hardly a major red flag, just something to keep in mind.

Rendon is never going to be confused with a speed option, so seeing 6 SB this season is a bonus more than anything.

Hitting towards the top of the lineup is going to lead to runs scored, especially in the average department, so it’s the power and RBI that we have to wonder about.  As we’ve said before, it’s not surprising to see a 24-year old add power though it does appear like his jump is a little bit extreme.

On the surface his 11.1% HR/FB, especially given the increased fly ball rate.  The question is if that number is believable, or are the home runs more “luck” than anything?  The answer would appear to be a resounding no.  Why, you ask?

According to Baseball Heat Map’s Home Run and Flyball Leaderboard, Rendon comes in 32nd in average distance.  Just look at a few of the names that come in behind him:

  • Anthony Rendon – 298.15
  • Yasiel Puig – 297.70 (33rd)
  • Victor Martinez – 294.98 (38th)
  • Carlos Gomez – 294.09 (43rd)

Martinez is an article for another day, but no one is going to question the power of the other names.  In 2013 Rendon was at 277.01, ranking him 182nd, but again it’s not uncommon to see a player his age add strength.  It’s not like he’s suddenly ballooned into a 40 HR hitter, instead someone who should hit 20-25.  There’s nothing unrealistic with this development and makes him that much more appealing.

It certainly appears like this is a power surge he can maintain, placing him squarely among the better 2B in the league.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps

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