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Trea Turner on why birthday boy Anthony Rendon is his favorite player

Anthony Rendon douses Trea Turner after Turner hit a walk-off home run at Nationals Park last September. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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If Anthony Rendon keeps playing like he’s been playing this season, a lot more people might join Trea Turner in referring to the Nationals’ third baseman as their favorite player.

Rendon, who hit his 11th home run of the season in the Nationals’ 4-2 win over the Dodgers on Monday and turned 27 on Tuesday, has been Turner’s favorite player since at least last September. How do we know this? Because Turner shouted, “That’s my favorite player! That’s my favorite player!” when Rendon returned to the dugout after hitting his first career grand slam in a win over the Braves on Sept. 6.

Three days later, Turner hit a walk-off home run to beat the Phillies and Rendon helped him celebrate.

“You’re my favorite player,” Turner said before Rendon doused the rookie with purple Gatorade.

“He’s my favorite player,” Turner said, again, of Rendon during spring training. “He makes baseball look easy. He looks like he’s not trying out there. If he wasn’t the player he is, I think you’d talk about him more. When he makes a diving play it’s just, ‘Oh, look, he made another diving play.’ Because he makes one, it seems like, every day. He quietly does a lot of things to help this team win.”

It’s not just Rendon’s work with the glove that makes him Turner’s favorite player.

“That’s why he’s my favorite player,” Turner said after Rendon had six hits, including three home runs, and 10 RBI in Washington’s 23-5 win over the Mets on April 30.

Rendon had two hits on Monday to raise his average to .294, to go along with 29 runs, 36 RBI and three steals. Rendon has almost as many walks (30) as strikeouts (32) and ranks sixth among National League position players in WAR, according to FanGraphs.

Turner, who moved to his natural shortstop position this season after playing center field last year, recently offered some more insight into why Rendon is his favorite player.

“The more and more you get to watch him, the more and more you realize how good he is,” Turner said a couple of weeks ago. “He did finish fifth in MVP voting a few years ago, but he’s not necessarily an MVP-caliber player in the sense that every year he’s competing for the award, but he is an all-star player. He plays really well defensively, hits really well, hits homers, hits for average, drives in runs, can run the bases and steal some bases. He does it all and I don’t think you get to appreciate him until you watch him play every day, and this year I’ve stood right next to him basically every single game, gotten a chance to see him play and the things he does. He’s special and we’re good friends, so I joke with him a lot. It’s kind of a joke we have, but at the same time, he’s a really good player.”

Rendon said Turner was his favorite player during spring training. Would he still say that now?

“I hope, I don’t know,” Turner said. “That would be some high praise. He knows I like him, so that’s all that really matters.”