Anthony Rendon’s surprising power

brushback_harperWith one quick flick of his wrists in the sixth inning on Monday night, Anthony Rendon launched his 17th home run of the season. The solo shot to left off Phillies right-handed starter A.J. Burnett trimmed the Nationals’ deficit in half at the time in what turned out to be a 3-2 loss. It wasn’t any particular milestone in his career, but the home run offers an opportunity to reflect on Rendon’s power this season.

When the Nationals drafted him, they believed the power in his stroke would come. It showed some in the minor leagues, and even last season when he hit seven home runs in 98 games. This season, a stronger Rendon has more than doubled his 2013 home run total in 126 games. Manager Matt Williams has even admitted that Rendon’s power has surprised him.

Rendon ranks tied for 24th in the National League in home runs, which doesn’t seem like much. But, in context, it’s impressive. Of the hitters that rank above him, only Marcell Ozuna (19 home runs) of the Marlins is younger. Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the NL with 32 home runs, is 24. So is Freddie Freeman, who also has 17 homers. Everyone else above Rendon is older.

He has a stellar .276/.336/.461 slash line along with power.

“He’s played more games than he ever has,” Williams said. “His health is good. He’s maintained his strength. He’s maintained his weight, which is good. If he hits the ball, it’s got good carry. [Monday], he got one in on the label a little bit and just got it over, but he’s able to drive the ball to the middle of the diamond and to right-center, as well. He’s been a pleasant surprise to say the least. He’s been really good for us.”

Rendon also added a slick defensive play, diving to his right in the seventh inning with two outs to snare a Ben Revere grounder and then flinging the ball across the diamond for an out. But it is his offense and power that have been most impressive.

“He’s a really good hitter,” catcher Wilson Ramos said. “He’s got really good power, too. I like his swing. I like how he hits. He hits the ball well. He has power. He will get a lot of opportunities to hit a lot of homers. Good swing, power. He will hit a lot of home runs in his career. That’s good for him. An amazing player.”

FROM THE POST

The Nationals open a long road trip with a 3-2 loss in Philadelphia, writes Adam Kilgore.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Nationals discussing September call-ups

Asdrubal Cabrera’s side feels better, could play Tuesday

Bryce Harper starting to break out

On Jose Lobaton’s defense and pitch framing

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 5, Lehigh Valley 3: A.J. Cole improved to 7-0 by striking out eight and giving up three runs over five innings. Matt Grace and Rafael Martin each went two scoreless innings. Michael A. Taylor returned and went 2 for 5. Brandon Laird, Eury Perez, Destin Hood and Will Rhymes each had two hits.

Harrisburg 5, New Hampshire 3: Felipe Rivero struck out five and gave up only three hits over six innings. Tyler Herron earned his sixth save. Matt Skole hit a three-run homer.

Frederick 6, Potomac 0: Brian Rauh gave up six runs, five earned, on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. Pedro Encarnacion went 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Brandon Miller and Tony Renda had the only hits.

Hagerstown was off.

Auburn 2, Jamestown 1: Luis Reyes allowed one run over five innings. Jose Marmolejos-Diaz went 2 for 3 and Bryan Mejia scored two runs.

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