The National League MVP award will likely be given to Cody Bellinger of the L.A. Dodgers or Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers. The spectacular performance this year by third baseman Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals, however, launched him firmly into the conversation as one of the best players in baseball.
The 29-year-old third baseman posted the best numbers of his seven-year career almost across the board in 2019. He finished with 34 home runs, 126 RBIs and a .319 batting average — all career-highs. He was baseball’s RBI leader and, for the first time, was named to the All-Star team.
After a rough start to the season, Rendon’s Nationals got hot. They steadily climbed in the standings, finished second the NL East and secured the top NL wild-card spot with 93 wins. Washington advanced over Yelich and the Brewers and have now forced the top-seeded Dodgers to a fifth and final NLDS game Wednesday night in Los Angeles. In Game 4 on Monday, Rendon drove in three runs in the Nationals’ 6-1 victory.
Rendon, starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and company will have to have strong games to advance past Bellinger and the Dodgers, but with a win, the Nationals would advance to the NLCS for the first time since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.
Showcasing his abilities in the NLCS would mean more national media attention for Rendon, but that’s not what he’s chasing. In an Instagram video posted last year by Houston-based pastor Gregg Matte, Rendon expressed what he wants to be known for:
“I want to be known as a Christian baseball player and I’m still trying to grow into that,” Rendon said. “But in the end, I want to be more Christian than baseball player.”
Rendon continued: “If I just try to stay in the Word and try to surround myself with good people and have good community, I think that will just guide me on that path.”
Rendon’s strong 2019 season has come in a contract year; he’ll become a free agent whenever the Nationals’ playoff run comes to a close. Washington drafted Rendon sixth overall out of Rice University in 2011, and he has been with the franchise ever since. When asked last year about his future in Washington, he said he can’t control everything.
“You want to plan for the future,” Rendon told the Washington Post. “But I’ve come to learn your plans don’t always come to fruition. Obviously, with my faith, too, I don’t want to seem like it’s all about me, me, me. It takes away from what I do for Him, for the Lord.”
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