Anthony Rendon’s debut with the Los Angeles Angels in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season generally went the way it was expected to. He hit .286 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs in 52 games, while posting the highest on-base percentage of his career (.418).
Even though the Angels missed the playoffs, Rendon still wound up 10th in American League MVP voting.
It’s what L.A. was hoping for when it signed one of the highest-profile free agents available after the 2019 season. Following seven years with the Washington Nationals — helping the franchise win its first World Series in 2019, when he led all of baseball with 126 RBIs in the regular season — Rendon signed a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Angels.
He ended up in L.A. only after he surrendered control of his free-agency decision to God.
“Our prayer through the whole free-agency process was, ‘All right, where do You want us to go?'” he said this week on the “Table Forty Podcast.” “Because if it’s a perfect situation for us, then that’s just going to be for us. It’s going to be [made] selfishly. We’re going to trust in Him on wherever He wants to take us.”
Year two in Los Angeles went a little differently for the 31-year-old. A series of injuries limited him to 58 games and his batting average dropped to a career-low .240 as his team went 77-85.
After four straight finishes in the top 11 of MVP voting, the down year was difficult for Rendon to navigate at times. He felt the weight of the contract he signed and the expectations that come with it.
“I was thinking about me, I was thinking selfishly,” he said on the podcast. “‘Why is this happening to me? I’m on a new team, I need to be successful, I need to live up to the hype, whatever it might be.’ Then all of the thoughts just start pouring in, pouring in, pouring in.”
Rendon leaned on his support system as he battled through the injuries and eventually reached an important conclusion: His ability to serve God has nothing to be with how he performs on the field.
“God will use me whether I’m successful or whether I’m unsuccessful,” he said. “It just sucks more because as men, as competitors, we want to be used when we are being successful.”
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Rendon went to church and had a performance-based view of faith. His thoughts started to change as he attended a Bible study during his time at Rice University, and his knowledge of the Bible grew.
Drafted sixth overall by the Nationals in 2011, his faith took off when he reached the majors in 2013 and found a strong group of mentors in the clubhouse. Rendon came to realize his teammates were going through many of the same things he was.
“Hearing those guys and how family-oriented they were, and how I looked up to them, basically, they were opening up and they were showing vulnerability,” he said. “So that kind of allowed me to let my guard down and open up a little bit more to finally pursue that stronger relationship with Christ.”
He said on “Table Forty” he wanted to take what he’d learned from that environment and use it to serve a new set of teammates.
Now preparing for his third season in Los Angeles, Rendon has had the chance to do just that. While his time in L.A. hasn’t gone exactly as he’d hoped, Rendon’s been able to take the adversity he’s faced and turn it into an opportunity to grow closer to God.
My savior Jesus Christ gives me that patience and that slow heart rate.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) October 31, 2019
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