Boston Red Sox: What Does Hunter Renfroe Bring?

With the MLB offseason starting on November 1st this year, we have yet to see any major moves by the Boston Red Sox to date.  With that said, we saw one of the first moves come yesterday, with the signing of RF Hunter Renfroe.  This signing is rather interesting, and if anything is a fantastic depth move.  In this article, I will be going over the components of his game. Also, if he will fit the Boston system.

Hunter Renfroe’s Career To Date

Hunter has spent about 5 full seasons in the major leagues, as well as a few others in triple-A and minor leagues.  He spent the first 4 of these years with the San Diego Padres. His most productive seasons came with the Padres due to a large amount of at bats.  In 2020 he spent the year with the Tampa Bay Rays after being traded from the Padres.  Finally, we see him end up with the Boston Red Sox for the 2021 season.  

When we delve into the contract details, it’s actually a very team friendly deal for the Sox.  The base salary is 1 year, $3.1 million. Included on the back end are incentives based upon performance.  Even if he struggles this year, realistically the Red Sox would not miss out on much money wise.

Career Stats: A breakdown

Hunter has actually had a pretty proficient career at the plate.  In 2020 he had his arguably worst year, however only got about a quarter of the at bats that he did in 2019.  Using 2019 stats, he had a .216 batting average, .289 OBP, .489 SLG, with 33 home runs, 64 RBIs and 5 stolen bases.  Looking from the outside in, he seems to specialize in driving the ball, primarily to left field, as one would expect from a right hander.  

Something to note about his move to Boston is that Fenway has significantly shorter distances from the plate to the walls.  To give an idea of this, here are some dimension comparisons between Fenway Park and Petco Park.

  • Furthest wall from home plate: Fenway (420 feet) Petco (396 feet) however the 420 feet for Fenway is due to the sharp angle at center field.
  • Shortest possible home run: Fenway (302 feet) Petco (322 feet) due to Pesky’s pole at Fenway, driving home runs to that area is extremely short distance wise.
  • Height of shortest wall: Fenway (3-5 feet right field) Petco (5-7 feet near foul poles)

Another interesting statistic about this, Petco Park ranks 23rd on the list of easiest stadiums to hit a home run in.  While not the worst, it is significantly harder compared to Fenway park…which is the 4th easiest.  With that said, we should see a significant increase in Hunter’s proficiency and home run numbers.  

Adjusted Spray Chart

This is probably the most interesting part of what Hunter can bring to the Red Sox.  Like I said before, Fenway is significantly easier to hit home runs in than Petco Park.  The MLB has a device that takes a players spray chart and overlays it onto a new field.  What is a spray chart?  For those who do not know, it is a diagram that depicts every single hit, fly out, or ground out that a player has during a season.  When overlaying Hunter Renfroe’s from 2019 (his 33 home run season) this is what you get:

Now this may be slightly confusing to look at, so let me break down why this is significant.  Every grey colored circle that is past the walls on that diagram is either now A.) a home run or B.) off the green monster for a single or double.  After doing some counting, there seems to be at the very least 15 of said grey circles over the wall line, so that’s 15 more hits or home runs added onto his totals if he was playing in Fenway.  

Summary of the signing

Overall, this is probably one of the better low budget signings the Red Sox could have made.  A cheap, short deal on someone who is looking to prove themselves and get more ABs.  Getting a power hitter like this for cleanup or a low rotation player could be huge for run totals if the leadoff men can get on base.  It will be extremely exciting to see what he can do this year for the team, and if the factor of Fenway being smaller will improve his game drastically. 

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Can Hunter Renfroe be the difference maker for the Boston Red Sox? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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