Leading By Example

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We often look for gregarious personalities in our leaders, people whose voices often capture our attention before anything else. Yet sometimes they’re really just the guys quietly going about their business.

The Nationals have found their leadership lately in the unlikely duo of rookie second baseman Anthony Rendon and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. They have quietly carried the Nats this season as the likes of Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos recover from injuries.

Consider for a moment the numbers Rendon has posted in his first 26 big-league games. The rookie is sporting a .354 average, even accounting for his eight-game stint in April and May when he batted just .240. He was recalled on June 5, and since June 8he has accumulated 28 hits and a .400 average. That doesn’t just put him among the best of the league’s rookies. He’s batting as well as anyone in the majors in that time frame. No, seriously.

MLB Hit Leaders since 6/8

While Yasiel Puig has gotten all the attention, Anthony Rendon has quietly been among the best hitters in the game since early June.

While Yasiel Puig has gotten all the attention, Anthony Rendon has quietly been among the best hitters in the game since early June.

1. Yasiel Puig (LAD) 29

David Wright (NYM) 29

3. Anthony Rendon (WSH) 28

4. Mike Trout (LAA) 27

5. Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS) 26

Jason Kipnis (CLE) 26

7. Brett Gardner (NYY) 25

Manny Machado (BAL) 25

Joe Mauer (MIN) 25

Buster Posey (SFG) 25

Michael Young (PHI) 25

Through his first 25 games, Rendon amassed 32 hits, more than any player to debut with the Nationals since 2005. He then proceeded to go 3-for-4 in last night’s 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks, just missing a home run on a towering shot to left field in his final at-bat.

Zimmermann’s impact has been less unexpected, but perhaps just as unheralded. The righty ace is silently leading the National League with 11 wins (sharing the Major League lead with Detroit’s Max Scherzer), having turned in another stellar outing last night. After giving up two runs on two hits in the first inning, he allowed just one more hit though the seventh inning, giving way to Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano to close out the final two innings.

With Harper set to return as early as Monday, and Ramos expected shortly thereafter, the Nationals are slowly building a winning foundation to build upon when they get those other crucial pieces back.

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