Fantasy Baseball: Is Nats' Anthony Rendon a legit second base option?

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My 2014 Fantasy Baseball Preview continues with a quick stop in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Nationals are about as loaded as any team in baseball so there aren’t many position battles or guys to keep an eye on in spring training, but there is one guy in particular that I have my eye on and that is second baseman Anthony Rendon.

Sep 2, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Nationals second baseman Anthony Rendon (6) drops the ball while trying to turn a double play during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Nationals 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

I’m extremely high on the 23-year old as I have owned him in a couple of deep leagues since the year he was drafted and stashed him away. I’m hoping the 2014 season will offer me a nice payoff on my patience.

In his mid-season call-up last year I liked what I saw.

Rendon made the successful conversion from third base to second base just in time as Danny Espinosa, who had a .727 OPS with 19 homers and 18 stolen bases per season from 2011-2012, was struggling badly last year.  Rendon held his own at the plate, posting a .725 OPS with seven homers in 98 games. And he has the potential to be much better.

However that doesn’t mean Rendon has a job locked down when spring training begins, although I like many believe that he should.

Back in December, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told MLB.com that he would not guarantee what role Rendon would play on the team in 2014. When asked if Rendon would return to the role of starting second baseman, Rizzo replied, “I don’t know where he is going to play or what he is going to do.”

That could just be speak to motivate a young player but Rendon is a guy I would definitely keep my eye on and should be drafted in the middle rounds of any draft.

My biggest concern with Rendon is health.

He missed most of the 2012 season due to an ankle injury, and his draft stock slipped in 2011 due to questions about time he’d missed due to ankle and shoulder problems during his college career. However if Rendon can avoid injury, there’s enough promise in his offensive potential to make him a valuable second baseman.

Also don’t write Espinosa off just yet.

He went into the season with a partially torn rotator cuff, then battled a wrist injury. He’s also a much better defensive option so new Nats manager Matt Williams could elect to go with the better glove.

Either way it is an intriguing situation for fantasy owners to monitor during spring training.

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Tags: Anthony Rendon Danny Espinosa Fantasy Baseball Washington Nationals