WASHINGTON -- Entering the 2016 season, it was unclear exactly what kind of production Anthony Rendon could provide for the Nationals. Would he be closer to the injury-riddled '15 season, or would he return to the form that allowed him to finish fifth in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award in '14?
Rendon answered those questions with a bounce-back 2016 campaign, for which he was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award winner on Tuesday afternoon. The awards, voted on by MLB.com writers and revealed on MLB Network, are given to one player in each league who re-emerged on the field during the season. Rick Porcello won the American League version of the award.
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Rendon came into this season healthy and back at his natural position at third base. He may have exacerbated fears when he got off to a slow start in April, but he became one of the Nationals' hottest hitters in the second half to help carry them to 95 wins and the NL East title. Rendon finished the season with a slash line of .270/.348/.450 while posting 4.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference. He was also a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award at third base after spending most of the previous season playing second base.
Some of Rendon's totals in 2016 -- 20 home runs, 38 doubles and 85 RBIs -- were right in line with his totals from '14 -- 21 home runs, 39 doubles and 83 RBIs. After that '14 season, he was projected as a five-tool player and a future star.
But in 2015, Rendon played in just 80 games and was hampered by an MCL strain in his left knee during Spring Training, a left oblique injury sustained while rehabbing that kept him out until June and a left quad injury that cost him another month of the season. He struggled to ever truly get into a groove, and he hit .264/.344/.363 with just five home runs and a 0.3 WAR.
But Rendon returned to his breakout 2014 form this past season and cemented himself as one of the staples in the Nationals' lineup.
"We know Anthony can hit -- everybody knows that Anthony can hit -- but when you miss as much time as he missed last year, he's got to find his groove again, and we know Anthony's going to hit, big time," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said midseason. And that is exactly what happened.
Rendon becomes the second player in Nationals history (2005-present) to win this award, joining Dmitri Young in '07.
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.