The Angels’ Anthony Rendon leadoff experiment is not off to a great start

Well, that was an inauspicious start.
Los Angeles Angels infielder Anthony Rendon
Los Angeles Angels infielder Anthony Rendon / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Los Angeles Angels manager Ron Washington made the decision heading into Opening Day that Anthony Rendon would be the team's leadoff hitter. Washington stuck to his word, but the results were not good.

Rendon's name was atop the Angels' lineup card on Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles. The Halos' third baseman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. In fact, the two times that Rendon did put the ball in play, it never even left the infield.

In Rendon's defense, no one in LA's lineup looked good, and the opposing pitcher was a big reason why. Former Cy Young Award-winner Corbin Burnes was making his Orioles debut and flat-out dominated Angels' hitters all afternoon. Aside from Mike Trout's first inning home run, Burnes kept the Halos' bats in check.

The LA Angels’ Anthony Rendon leadoff experiment is not off to a great start

And the rest of the weekend? You guessed it. You watched it. 0-for-11.

Washington is not necessarily wrong in his assertion that, on paper, Rendon would be a good option to act as the Angels' leadoff hitter. Rendon's .367 career on-base percentage would seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered to get LA's bats off to hot start.

But the days of Rendon posting an on-base percentage of .400 or better are long over. From 2017-2020, when Rendon was collecting Silver Slugger Awards, All-Star nods, and MVP votes, it made all the sense in the world to place him in the leadoff spot. During that four-year span, Rendon hit .307/.399/.550.

But that was a long time ago. Rendon played in 481 of a possible 546 games during that stretch with the Washington Nationals and his first season in LA. Over the past three seasons, Rendon owns a .338 on-base percentage and has appeared in just 148 of a possible 486 games.

But Washington doesn't really have too many good options to be the Angels leadoff hitter. Perhaps Trout would work, but rookie infielder Nolan Schanuel might be the best alternative. The Angels first base draws walks almost 15% of the time and keeps the strikeouts to a minimum. Schanuel is not fleet of foot, but let's not pretend that Rendon is a burner on the base paths.

Washington isn't going to blow up this leadoff experiment after just one game, but Rendon couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. The Halos managed to split the final two games against the reigning AL East champions, and will enter their next series riding a victorious wave against the 0-4 Miami Marlins. Maybe Rendon will join the action this time around.

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