LA Angels' big money third baseman Anthony Rendon hasn't quite earned his money just yet. He signed a seven-year/$245 million contract in the offseason after the 2019 season, and is the second-highest paid position player in baseball (AAV) behind nobody but our guy Mike Trout.
In year 1, Rendon had a good year during the pandemic season. He hit .286/.418/.497 (.915 OPS) with an OPS+ of 150. That being said, when being paid the second-most out of any position player in the league in average annual contract value, you'd hope for more than nine home runs, 29 runs, and 31 RBIs even in a 60-game season.
He was certainly a good player, but to make the most of the contract so far, he'd have to return to 2019 form in 2021. Unfortunately, however, he was injured in 2021. He tried playing through it at times, getting to 58 games played, but that was it before he and the team decided to shut it down so he could definitely be ready for 2022.
In those 58 games, Rendon hit just .240/.329/.382 (.712 OPS) with only six home runs, 34 RBIs, and 24 runs scored. Rendon ALWAYS plays very strong defense, so we have always been able to count on him there. The offensive production and durability hasn't quite lived up to the contract just yet, though.
Anthony Rendon laughed at LA Angels fans who think he still hasn't proved that he's truly earned his contract so far.
ESPN detailed what happened when LA Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon spoke about fans that suggest he hasn't quite lived up to the insane contract yet:
"Rendon scoffs at the notion he needs to show anything to anybody, even the fans who have yet to really appreciate the slugger who earned his free-agent money with a spectacular 2019 season for Washington. "Maybe they can go back and look at some tape," Rendon said with a laugh. "I've been playing for a while.""- ESPN
I get where Rendon's coming from in the sense that he proved just how dominant a player he can be in Washington, but the issue is that the tape of his time after he signed the deal has not come anywhere close to matching what that performance was. Again, when a player is being paid more per year than any position player in the game except for a player who is arguably on track to being the best player of all-time, the expectations by many fans are understandably high.
For the record, I am not one of the Angels fans who calls Rendon "Anthony Rendone." The truth is, he was good (not great, but still good) in 2020 and hurt for almost the entire year in 2021. The argument that the 'Anthony Rendone' folks have that is at least valid, however, is that in the first eight games of last year (when Rendon was healthy), he wasn't playing very well offensively. He had a .378 on-base percentage, which is great, but just a .387 slugging percentage. He didn't hit .300 and only hit one homer and batted in just three runs.
In fairness to Rendon, however, that's of course an extremely small sample size. At least he was getting on base and scoring (five runs scored). Perhaps he just needed time. The confusing aspect of this, however, is that Rendon actually says he was hurt then too, and that he has actually been hurt his whole Angels career.
"I was not even able to rotate my hips. ...And if you look back at the highlights over the last two years, my back leg doesn't move. It doesn't rotate. ... I didn't know why. I knew something was wrong, even though every MRI and CT scan was clean. But I was feeling this pain for a reason, so I had to dig in deeper and find out what was going on."- Anthony Rendon, LA Angels Third Baseman
This is not going to sit well with the fans who really oppose Rendon's contract and ability to earn that contract. They already don't buy what they see as excuses for his 2021 performance, and therefore they're surely not going to buy new information that suggests he's actually been hurt this entire time. It's seen as the classic 'Well, I was hurt' claim that some athletes tend to use at times to excuse down performances.
All in all, I'm in the middle when it comes to the two sides on Rendon. He didn't earn an average annual value of $35 million in 2020, but was still a good player. In 2021, he missed the majority of the year and durability is important when evaluating a ballplayer after a massive payday. As for his poor performance in '21, however, I do acknowledge that he was battling injuries and therefore it's tough to expect a ton out of that season.
He's not 'Rendone' yet, but he does have something to prove to Angels fans who feel that he hasn't quite yet earned his contract these past couple of years overall. A prime bounce-back candidate, don't be surprised if he wins his second Comeback Player of the Year award this upcoming season. He certainly has the talent to come back bigger and better in 2022.