Get ready for baseball's best No. 2-3 lineup punch: Anthony Rendon's signing with the Angels for seven years and $245 million late Wednesday night pairs two of the game's best hitters, as the third baseman joins Mike Trout in the top third of their lineup.
With the move, the Angels are the only team that can claim multiple players who were worth at least six wins above replacement on offense alone in 2019 -- Trout was worth 8.3 wins, Rendon 6.4 -- and if not for Rendon missing by a fraction of a win in 2018, they'd be able to claim both players having amassed at least five WAR on offense in each of the past three seasons. No other team can claim that, nor was any especially close.
Now consider this possibility: If Angels fully unleash Shohei Ohtani as their every-day designated hitter and cleanup hitter in 2020, after he slashed .286/.351/.532 with 5.0 WAR on offense in 792 trips to the plate in his first two seasons in the States, the team should easily claim the honor of baseball's most potent Nos. 2-3-4 lineup combination.
Finally, there's this: The 2019 Angels squeezed .243/.306/.345 slash rates and a major-league-worst .284 wOBA from their third basemen. Behind Rendon's production, the Nationals had .314/.402/.570 rates and a major-league-leading .399 wOBA, so this is a massive upgrade to the team's lineup.
For Rendon individually, not a whole lot should change. Yes, Nationals Park has been both the more home run- and runs-friendly environment than Angel Stadium in each of the past three seasons, grading at least 8% better for runs in each of those years. Angel Stadium's power boost also favors left- rather than right-handed hitters thanks to the team's decision to lower the home run line on the right-through-right-center-field wall following the 2017 season, meaning that its 11-feet-deeper fences to left field and 13-feet-deeper to left-center compared to those at National Park might cost him a small handful of home runs.
But don't underestimate the value of having Trout slot ahead of you in the lineup: The Angels got a major-league-leading .373 on-base percentage from their Nos. 1-2 hitters in 2019, and a .353 mark from 2017-19 combined that ranked sixth-best, while the Nationals' top two hitters got on base at a .348 rate. Anything Rendon loses in terms of home runs might more than be made up by a gain in RBIs; doubles off the wall or bouncing inches in front of it do still plate baserunners.
Any regression concerns surrounding Rendon should be limited to two things: first, his injury history. While he has averaged a solid 143 games played the past three seasons, his best from a fantasy perspective in his seven-year career, that's still only eighth-most among players who made at least half their appearances during that time at third base, behind prominent names in fantasy such as Manny Machado (158), Nolan Arenado (157) and Alex Bregman (156). Rendon also made a pair of injured-list trips, so don't mistake him for the most durable player, despite the fact that he's still faring better in this department than during the early days of his pro career.
The other, smaller concern is the theory that league-switchers, especially those to the American League, often suffer a brief adjustment period early in their first years as they adapt to a new set of pitchers they haven't often seen. That shouldn't have a dramatic impact upon your draft-day plans for Rendon, but it's something to tuck away as a "patience" reminder if you do. In the event that he underperforms in April -- bear in mind his .825 career March/April OPS is also his lowest in any month -- it's wiser to chalk it up to adjustments rather than make a rash deal.