Sleeper Spotlight: Now In Tampa Bay, Will Hunter Renfroe Finally Emerge As A Can’t Miss Fantasy Option?

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After the Padres recently acquired Trent Grisham from the Brewers the assumption was that a secondary move to clear their glut of outfielders would be coming.  With that in mind a deal jettisoning Hunter Renfroe should not have come as a surprise, though the fact that he was used to acquire Tommy Pham (another outfielder) may.  That said Renfroe has generally been an intriguing power bat seen as having significant upside, so the question after the trade is if he could finally unlock his full upside.

Obviously if you just look at the numbers from 2019 the first thought is of a poor man’s Joey Gallo (ie significant power, but little else):

440 At Bats
.216 Batting Average (95 Hits)
33 Home Runs
64 RBI
64 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.289 On Base Percentage
.489 Slugging Percentage
.239 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Despite setting a career high in home runs, he failed to produce in any other category (including RBI/R).  The first question is going to be whether or not he’ll simply benefit from a move out of San Diego:

  • Home – .193, 14 HR, 29 RBI (187 AB)
  • Road – .233, 19 HR, 35 RBI (253 AB)

It’s interesting that his HR/FB was slightly higher at home (24.1% vs. 23.2%), showing that he has the power to hit the ball out of any ballpark.  In other words it’s fair to expect a similar power pace in 2020.

The average was due partly due to poor luck (46.9% Hard%), but it was more these three key numbers:

  • Fly Ball Rate – 47.9%
  • Oppo% – 13.0%
  • Strikeout Rate – 31.2%

His fly ball rate and Oppo% are going to consistently suppress his BABIP, and considering his career marks (45.3% and 16.6%, respectively) nothing is about to change.  Maybe he improves a little bit, but a .250 AVG could prove to be his ceiling.

A 13.1% SwStr% does support an elevated strikeout rate, though again last year’s mark is a bit extreme.  While opposing pitchers started throwing him fewer fastballs, in favor of more breaking balls, even his 19.16% Whiff% on those pitches is enough to expect an improvement.

He hit .252 with 27 HR in the first half (266 AB), before falling off a cliff after the All-Star Break (.161 with 6 HR over 174 AB).  Part of that was fueled by injury, but in a solid lineup with the chance to finally be used every day that first half offers the guidelines for our expectations with maybe a slight regression in his power (especially considering his .248 BABIP and 30.3% HR/FB).

A .250 hitter with the potential to hit 40+ HR will have value, and while he isn’t elite he’s going to be a player you want to target.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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