Some team was going to end up with Anthony Rendon and after missing out on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes, the Angels ponied up and signed Rendon. It’s a simple signing and here how the various players see their fantasy values change.
Anthony Rendon (down)
From 2016 to 2018, Rendon was about the same hitter with between 20 and 24 home runs, .270 to .308 AVG, and never breaking a 190 Runs+RBI. He just destroyed those numbers last season with 34 homers, a .319 AVG, and 243 Runs+RBIs. With nothing changing in his hitting profile (plate discipline and batted ball stats), the career season can be based on a little luck but mainly the happy fun ball which is back for another season.
The change in scenery factors seem to point to his value going down a bit. The park factors between Washington DC and Orange County are about the same. The division opponents are a mix of competitive and non-competitive teams. The biggest difference will be the lineup quality. Even with a DH, the Angels averaged 4.75 runs per game last season and the Nationals were at 5.4 runs per game. Even though the best player in baseball will be in the Angels lineup, it’s a huge downgrade for Rendon. While the juiced ball will keep his home runs up, the Runs+RBI total should be around 200 to 210 instead of 240.
Most of the Other Regulars (up)
The Angels lineup had no punch last year. By just moving a weak bat like Luis Rengifo or David Fletcher to the bench, the lineup substantially improves. A star hitter will help keep the lineup churning creating more at-bats for everyone. With the extra at-bats, the counting stats for everyone jumps.
Also, I’m not a believer in lineup protection so I don’t think Mike Trout will produce at some unreached level above league MVP level. Trout is going to come to bat more with more people on base and will be driven home by those hitting after him. If he can stay healthy, he’s the player likely to be pushing 240+ Runs+RBIs.
David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella (down)
Rendon is going to play third and Andrelton Simmons will be at short. Assuming Ohtani and Pujols split time at DH and Pujols plays some first base, then Fletcher and La Stella will split a half-time first base job and the second base duties. If either one is playing first baseman going into the season, the Angels have failed on a historic level. The Angels are going to sign someone like C.J. Cron or Domingo Santana to help out at first base. My guess is that Fletcher goes back to the utility role and will fill in as injuries happen.
Other teams needing a third baseman (down)
Several teams (e.g. Rangers, Braves, Nationals) were looking to improve at third and with Rendon gone, the only difference-maker on the free-agent market is Josh Donaldson. Some teams are going to miss out and they will have to start below-average players at third. I’m not into the guessing game on who will come away empty-handed, but some of the biggest fantasy gainers may be players forced into the starting lineup like Carter Kieboom in Washington.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.