Anthony Rendon Still Isn't Living Up to His Contract
When the Los Angeles Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million contract in December of 2019, they thought they were adding a franchise cornerstone to complement Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Instead, they imported an albatross of a contract he hasn't come close to living up to. So far in 2023, Rendon has actually been better at the plate, but is nowhere near the player he needs to be.
After awful seasons in 2021 and 2022, Rendon has started 2023 more favorably. But he's had a really weird campaign. In 2021 he hit. 240 with a .329 on-base percentage, while slugging .382. His .712 OPS was far below the .937, .909, 1.010 and .915 of the previous four seasons. He followed that up in 2022 by hitting .229 with an on-base percentage of .326 and slugging of .380. His OPS was down again, to .706. In 2021 and 2022 he combined for 11 home runs, and only managed to play in 105 game across the two seasons. Everything has been terrible and his deal looks one of MLB's all-time busts.
This season, things have changed. Slightly. Through 21 games, Rendon is hitting .250 with a .374 on-base percentage. That's good! But his slugging percentage has continued to bottom out and sits at a dismal .292. While he's been much better at the plate from an average and on-base perspective, his OPS is down to .665, and he has yet to hit a home run.
Rendon currently has more walks (14) than strikeouts (11), but of his 18 hits, only three have gone for extra bases. And he has zero home runs. All the while, he's been batting cleanup for the Angels. That doesn't seem ideal.
A look deeper into the numbers through the end of April show some weird stats. Rendon's average exit velocity (91.3 mph) is the best of his career, but his max exit velocity (102.7 mph) is a career-low. Meanwhile, his sweet spot and hard hit percentages are pretty good, but he's barreling the ball at the lowest rate of his career:
So what can we make of this start? It's pretty clear Rendon has been more disciplined at the plate and the results are paying off in some ways. But, at 32, his power has essentially evaporated. We're a long way from the guy who hit 34 home runs in 2019.
Now, at risk of going all Max Muncy on Rendon, we have a few years of track record that show he's unlikely to ever regain that kind of power. The Angels are paying him $38 million this season, and for an additional three years. They didn't give him that deal to be competent at the plate, they were paying for a star. That ship has almost certainly sailed and was likely written off last year. At this point any improvement has to be seen as a win after massively adjusted expectations.