WASHINGTON–After being presented the National League pennant, Anthony Rendon walked off the makeshift podium and veered to his right.
In the horizon stood 43,976 Washington Nationals faithful dressed in a sea of red, eager to celebrate the franchise’s first World Series berth after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series, however, immediately in front of him stood several family members.
Before he joined his teammates in the clubhouse to celebrate, Rendon picked up his daughter Emma and lifted her in the air. He embraced his wife Amanda and slowly made his way among the throng of family members who watched him hit the game’s first RBI. Then he finally embraced his parents Rene and Bridget Rendon, who waited for him with open arms.
“It’s been a little unbelievable,” Bridget Rendon told La Vida Baseball. “We knew that the team could do it, but we were like ‘Really this is really happening. I can’t believe it.’ It’s been exciting.”
Unbelievable barely describes the Nationals’ astounding turnaround from NL East bottomfeeders at 19-31 in May to NLCS winners on Tuesday night.
“It’s been unbelievable from where they started,” Rene Rendon said. “They started out so bad and they finally got it together. They picked the right time.”
Anthony Rendon, 29, has been a key part of the Nationals’ change of course.
He finished the regular season with a .319/.412/.598 slash line to go with a career-high 44 doubles and 34 home runs, good for 6.3 bWAR, 7.0 fWAR. He was named to his first All-Star Game and will likely receive several first-place votes on the 2019 NL MVP Award ballot.
“It’s amazing,” Anthony said. “We’ve had a very long journey. Like I said, it’s been a lot of ups, it’s been a lot of downs, but we’re not finished yet. We’re trying to continue to keep on grinding. We’ve got some more work to do.”
Through the 10 games this postseason, Anthony has batted at a .375/.465/.594 clip. He added several big hits, including a Division Series Game 5 home run off Clayton Kershaw and Tuesday’s first RBI to go along with stellar defensive stops at third base.
“I’ve tried to keep it simple,” Anthony said. “See ball, hit ball. Try to put the barrel on it.”
With each at-bat and highlight-reel play in the postseason, Nationals fans have showered him with “M-V-P” chants, something Anthony called humbling.
“It’s crazy to hear this many people trying to cheer for you,” Anthony said. “We definitely don’t deserve it, but it’s definitely humbling.”
Ask any Nationals fan and they will tell you that the chants are well-deserved, but humility has been Anthony’s M.O. since the former Rice University star entered the major leagues in 2013.
A cousin chimed in and said, “He’s a great player. He’s a nice guy [and] he’s overall a great person.”
When the Nationals open the World Series on Oct. 22, Anthony will be one of several Latinos on the roster.
Born to a Mexican father, Anthony will join the likes of Fernando Valenzuela and Beto Ávila as Mexicans and Mexican Americans to compete in the World Series.
“Well, we’re very excited,” Rene said. “We’re happy that he really took the time and dedication to get where he is now.”
Bridget added, “Baseball is part of his life. There’s other things in his life too, but the fact that he’s moving and going to be a voice for other people, that’s what I like about him.”
Featured Image: Alex Trautwig / Stringer / Getty Images