Nationals vs. Mets: Position-by-Position Breakdown

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins

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Third Base — Anthony Rendon vs. David Wright

Rendon and Wright combined to play only 118 games last year. Rendon sprained his left knee in March, and was not expected to miss significant time. Instead, the injury dragged on mysteriously, and the 2014 Silver Slugger could not get healthy. When the knee injury healed, almost immediately, Rendon was back down again with a strained quad.

When he was on the field in 2015, Rendon was a shadow of the player he was in 2014. His slugging percentage dropped over 100 points. Rendon hit only five home runs in 80 games, and looked timid at the plate. Adding to his problems, the Nationals played Rendon at second base for most of the season. Yunel Escobar had been one of the team’s most consistent hitters when filling in for Rendon at third base. Heading into 2016, Rendon should feel more comfortable moving back to his natural position for the entire year.

There are health questions, and then there are health questions. David Wright was diagnosed with spinal stenosis early last season, and some thought Captain America had played his final games. Wright proved the doubters wrong and was able to get back on the field in time for the playoffs. The All-Star third baseman played 38 games last season and hit .289/.379/.434 with five home runs. Wright’s slugging percentage was well below his career average, but his return came only a few months after his career nearly ended.

The effects of the chronic injury Wright now must deal with were painfully evident in the postseason. By the time the World Series rolled around, Wright was having a hard time moving in the field, making throws, and getting around on fastballs. The notion that the Mets should trade Duda and convert Wright to first base gained a little steam early in the offseason, but ultimately no move was made. If Wright can get on the field 120 times in 2016, the Mets should be exceedingly happy.

The Verdict: Rendon

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