Nationals stock watch: Rendon on the rise

Nationals stock watch: Rendon on the rise
April 9, 2014, 12:00 pm
(USA TODAY Sports)

Record: 5-2
Team slash: .253/.319/.409
Team ERA: 2.25
Runs per game: 4.57

STOCK UP

Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B - 7 G, .407 BA, 11 H, 4 R, 3 2B, HR, 8 RBI, 1.037 OPS

If the season’s first week is any indication, the Nationals’ 23-year-old infielder might be starting to show why the team drafted him sixth overall in 2011 out of Rice. Through seven games, Rendon has posted a .407 average – highest of the everyday players – to go along with a home run and 8 RBIs. His approach at the plate seems night and day from a season ago, and looks like he has a chance to blossom now that he’s an everyday part of the lineup.

Adam LaRoche, 1B - 7 G, .348 BA, 8 H, 7 R, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 1.152 OPS

With this year expected to be a breakout campaign for some of the Nationals’ younger hitters (see above), it was easy to forget about what LaRoche can do. The veteran first baseman has started his season out strong, hitting .348 with a club-high 9 RBIs. If he can sustain this kind of performance while guys like Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman get back on track, look out.

Gio Gonzalez, SP - 2 GS, 2-0, 0.75 ERA, 12.0 IP, 11 SO, .150 BAA, 0.750 WHIP

The first week of the season, for the most part, has gone well for Nationals starting pitchers, with Gonzalez leading the way. He went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his first two starts of the year, lasting six innings each outing.  It’s early in the season, but it’d be a huge boon for the Nats if Gonzalez returns to his 2012 form.

Aaron Barrett, RP - 4 G, 0.00 ERA, 3.2 IP, BB, 5 SO, 0.273 WHIP

How about this for a start to your major league career: Four relief appearances, 3.2 innings, zero runs allowed. That’s about as good as Barrett and the Nationals could hope for coming from a rookie reliever.  Though it’s not realistic to think he can keep this up over a long stretch, it’s still a sign that the Nats’ bullpen has a chance to have quality depth to go along with Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano.

 

STOCK DOWN

Stephen Strasburg, SP - 2 GS, 0-1, 6.10 ERA, 10.1 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 5 BB, 1.742 WHIP

Washington’s ace hasn’t had the start to the season that he nor the club envisioned, going 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two outings. One of his main issues so far? Pitch efficiency. Strasburg threw 102 pitches in six innings in the season opener against the Mets and 94 in 4.1 innings in his second start vs. the Braves.  He’ll have to consistently show he can go deep into games before he can truly cement his status as one of the game’s top aces.

Bryce Harper, LF - 6 G, .160 BA, 4 H, 2 R, 11 SO, BB, CS, .286 OPS

It’s early, but the team’s youngest and brightest star has yet to find his swing, as he posted a paltry .160 average to go along with 11 strikeouts through six games. Harper’s frustration at the dish was so evident that manager Matt Williams had to give him a day off Sunday against the Braves so that he could recharge.  One week does not a season make, of course, so it remains to be seen if Harper’s troubles will extend beyond this early rough patch.

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B - 2 E, .818 fielding %

The Nationals’ third baseman isn’t listed here because of his early season plate production (.350/HR/3 RBI); he’s hitting well. But his nagging shoulder injury continues to be a story and appears as if it’s not going away anytime soon. It’s clearly affecting his throwing motion and accuracy from third base, and puts the manager – who doesn’t have the option of DHing him in the NL-- in a tough spot.

Tyler Clippard, RP - 5 G, 3.86 ERA, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, HR, 1.500 WHIP

Clippard, who usually is one of the club’s most consistent relievers over the years, had a hiccup in the first game of the Braves series. He served up the go-ahead run late in the game and suffered his first loss of the season (for reference, he had only three losses all of last year).  He’s sporting a 3.86 ERA thru his first five appearances, but has plenty of time to return to form. 

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