Sleeper Spotlight: Can Hunter Renfroe Emerge As A Must Own Option?

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After being non-tendered Hunter Renfroe landed on his feet, signing a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. Generally viewed as a platoon player, it appears he’ll have an opportunity to be more than that in 2021:

Just looking at the numbers, you have to wonder why he’d be getting that type of opportunity:

  • vs. RHP – .216/.268/.449
  • vs. LHP – .258/.339/.573

There has been a dramatic difference in his strikeout rate, with a 31.2% mark against righties (21.0% against lefties). Last season he was actually better, despite the overall struggles, with an overall 11.9% SwStr% and 28.9% O-Swing%. It was a small sample (139 PA), but a 26.6% strikeout rate would be enough if he could maintain it.

It’s not to say that there aren’t other issues, like a pull heavy approach (17.2% Oppo% for his career) or arguably a few too many flyballs (45.5% flyball rate). That said, if the strikeouts are in check coupled with the power potential, in a full-time role a .250+ AVG could be possible.

The power is going to be interesting, as Renfroe squares off with Fenway Park. There’s never been a question about his HR upside, with three straight seasons of 26+ HR (including 33 in 2019). The question is going to be whether or not he can consistently clear the Green Monster, or if he’s going to be consistently putting new dents in it.

His Launch Angle would certainly seem to make him an ideal candidate to consistently clear the wall. He owns a 17.5 degree career mark, with a high of 19.1 coming in 2019. Let’s compare that to a few other Boston right-handed sluggers:

  • J.D. Martinez – 14.7
  • Xander Bogaerts – 8.7

Obviously it’s not a given that it leads to a significant number of home runs, but it helps. With a career 21.0% HR/FB, could a career high in home runs be in his future if he can reach 500 AB?

Considered a plus defender, that alone could keep his bat in the lineup. With the power and potential to hit .250, there is reason for optimism. The draft day cost is going to be minimal, but the payoff could be significant.

If you can get him on the cheap, and you should be able to, don’t hesitate to make the investment.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
Catcher--
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Shortstop12/07/20
Outfielder--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--



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