Through the month of March, leading up to MLB Opening Day on April 1,
Sports Spectrum is highlighting 21 Christ-following players to watch in 2021.
The 2020 season was one of adjustment for Anthony Rendon, both in figuring how to navigate playing during a global pandemic and in getting acclimated to a new team and city. After winning the World Series with the Nationals in 2019, Rendon signed a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels last offseason.
In 2019, he led all of MLB in RBIs (126) and the National League in doubles (44) while hitting .319, making him one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. Though Rendon knew a huge contract was coming, he stayed focused on trying to discern God’s will for him and his family throughout the free-agency process.
“We didn’t really want our plans to kind of take over and try to ignore maybe His will for our lives and where He wanted us to be,” the 30-year-old said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast last year. “And so we were trying to just not be so selfish and trying to think about that, and we reached out to many people that we believe that have just huge impacts on our lives spiritually.”
Rendon grew up going to church but didn’t truly understand what it meant to be a Christian until much later in life. When he got hurt during his freshman year at Rice University, he felt lost without being able to play baseball and started reading his Bible.
He attended a team Bible study at Rice and continued that practice when he broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2013. The authentic bond Rendon saw his Nationals teammates form through the Bible study made him want to explore his faith more.
“We’re all broken, we’re all sinners, and it doesn’t matter where we came from,” he said. “[God]’s just going to love us for who we are as a person. He’s going to change our ways slowly by changing our hearts. And then our actions will depict that.”
In his first full season in the majors in 2014, Rendon scored an NL-leading 111 runs and hit .287 with 21 home runs and 83 RBIs. He finished fifth in MVP voting and won the first of his two Silver Slugger Awards.
The Richmond, Texas, native became a fixture in the middle of the Nats’ lineup from there, recording at least 38 doubles, 20 home runs and 85 RBIs in four straight seasons from 2016 to 2019. He reached another level in 2019 for the eventual World Series champions and was named an All-Star for the first time.
In an interview with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt following the World Series Game 7 triumph, Rendon credited God with keeping him calm amid all the pressure and stress: “My savior Jesus Christ gives me that patience and that slow heart rate.”
My savior Jesus Christ gives me that patience and that slow heart rate.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) October 31, 2019
Rendon played 52 games in his first season in Los Angeles, hitting .286 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs to finish in the top 11 in MVP voting for the fourth year in a row. The Angels begin the 2021 campaign in search of their first playoff appearance since 2014 and first postseason win since 2009.
If they are to end the drought, Rendon figures to be a big reason why. But his ultimate purpose in life is something much greater.
“We are given this platform and we all are called to spread His Word to everybody,” Rendon said on the podcast. “If I’m not doing that, then I’m not living out my purpose.”
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