Angels' Anthony Rendon lineup experiment feels wildly (and hilariously) optimistic

Ron Washington is really cooking with this lineup plans heading into the 2024 season.

Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Angels
Cincinnati Reds v Los Angeles Angels / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

Unironically, one of the biggest X-factors for the Los Angeles Angels in 2024 is Anthony Rendon. When he is right and feels like playing, we have seen him be one of the better hitters in baseball and be capable of carrying an offense. Unfortunately, that requires Rendon to actually stay healthy and play in games, and that is where a healthy amount of skepticism of him is warranted.

In addition to the fact that Rendon hasn't been very good over the last three seasons with a .701 OPS over that span, he has also only played in 148 games since the start of the 2021 season as he has dealt with injury after injury. Hell, Rendon couldn't even get through spring training this year without hurting himself.

That hasn't seemed to deter manager Ron Washington from planning on leaning on Rendon, however. Wash has been one of the few that has remained in Rendon's corner after the media fallout from the third baseman basically declaring that baseball isn't a priority for him. In fact, it looks like Washington could end up giving Rendon a prime spot in the Angels' lineup instead of hiding him.

LA Angels going to Rendon at leadoff is certainly....a decision

In fairness to Wash, the thought process involved in trying Rendon out at leadoff is not completely insane. In a vacuum, Rendon is a guy that walks at a high clip and, assuming he is actually healthy and motivated this season, he has the chops to be a guy that can get the most plate appearances in the lineup -- and make the most of them.

However, there are a lot of "ifs" here, and lot has to go right for such a plan to be worthwhile. Given Rendon's history, even the most optimistic folks out there on Rendon's ability have to agree that we have little reason to think he will play all that much this year, as it has been literal years since he has played more than 58 games in a season. Do the Angels really want to be adjusting their lineup on the fly constantly depending on how Rendon's body is holding up on any given day?

They may have no choice, because Washington is right that the Angels don't really have an ideal leadoff hitter. Nolan Schanuel is still very green, and he doesn't have some of the traditional attributes (primarily speed) that many teams look for at leadoff. Mike Trout has put up great numbers at leadoff in his career, but the Angels are going to be monitoring his usage this year carefully to keep him on the field. Besides, he has put up even better numbers in the No. 2 and No. 3 slots in his career.

If putting Rendon at leadoff this spring is just a curiosity that Washington wanted to examine up close, then that is completely fine. However, if his new plan is putting Rendon at leadoff regularly as the "best option" and just hoping that his expensive figurehead both stays healthy and figures out how to hit better than .240, then LA may be in for some serious disappointment.

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