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Sunday, January 12, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: ANTHONY RENDON 2B/3B WASHINGTON NATIONALS

                                                          Anthony Rendón

It is fair to say that both the second base and even more so the third base positions in 2014 are looking pretty shallow and a challenge to fill during your upcoming draft.  With your best course of action being to use your first two picks on a first baseman and an outfielder, there is a good chance you will have to pan for some sleeper candidates in order to try and (pardon the pun) hit a home run when addressing those spots.  One such player who carries the sleeper upside we all covet and who qualifies at both second base and third base is Washington Nationals youngster Anthony Rendon.  The former sixth overall selection in the 2011 draft got a crash course at the major league level last season in replacing an injure Ryan Zimmerman at third base and managed to ultimately stay up the remainder of the year after eventually shifting to second base to take over for Danny Espinoza.  Blessed with a good eye at the plate and burgeoning power, Rendon absolutely carries some interesting potential for the 2014 season and is worth delving into a bit further in order to see what he could possibly supply with his stats.

As far as Rendon's rookie season was concerned, he managed to hit a solid .265 with 7 home runs and 35 RBI in 351 at-bats.  Rendon was rushed to the majors of which no one would doubt and so the mediocre-looking numbers from last season have to be taken with a bit of grain of salt.  In going back to Rendon's minor league profile, his ability to work the count and wait for his pitch made him a perennial .300 hitter whose doubles power would eventually transform into home run pop.  While Rendon doesn't have much in the way of speed (which means don't look for anything more than single digits in steals), at only 23-years-old in 2014 the ceiling is quite sizable.  Yes the Nationals home ballpark is tough on power hitters but Rendon has every right to up his home run and RBI rates in his first full MLB season.  While Rendon is not anywhere near a 30 home run hitter, there is an outside chance he reaches the 20 mark this season.  More likely would be something in the 15-20 range but again someone with such a solid plate approach has a chance to overachieve. 

Getting back to Rendon's batting eye and ability to take walks, he could hit .300 as soon as this season, with a more likely number somewhere around .285.  He will only go up from that mark as he continues to gain more experience and faces more pitchers from around the league.  Finishing up the categories, Rendon will likely bat in the middle to bottom portion of the Nationals' lineup and so his runs total is not going to be too pretty but the RBI opportunities should be decent which is the tradeoff there. 

When you put everything together, Anthony Rendon certainly looks like an interesting player for both second base and third base this season.  You always want to put a decent amount of "ceiling players" onto your roster as these are the guys who will supply the biggest bang for your fantasy baseball bucks and ultimately will put you in good position to take home your league's title.  Rendon is one of these players.  While he may not light the league on fire yet, the upward climb to possible stardom is looking to be ready to get underway soon.

2014 PROJECTION:  .284 17 HR 77 RBI 65 R 4 SB

Be sure to check back for more of the starting pitching rankings as we move forward through the week.  Let us hear your thoughts.

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