Padres’ Hunter Renfroe Continues to Impress
The San Diego Padres’ outfielder Hunter Renfroe continues to impress beyond belief. After a red-hot month of August, he has kept his torrid pace in September and there is no sign of him slowing down.
Before the start of the 2018 season, I had a conversation with San Diego Padres manager Andy Green about the direction of the franchise.
We both agreed that the team needed to get on base more consistently to be successful.
In that conversation, the name Hunter Renfroe came up a few times.
I am not going to sugar coat it. Andy was disappointed in Hunter and his lack of adjustments at the plate. I asked him about the demotion late in the 2017 year, to which he danced around the reason, but did indicate that the team was frustrated with the hitter. The writing was clearly on the wall for the outfielder. The ball was in his proverbial court.
To Renfroe’s credit, he has made adjustments and his growth as a hitter is tremendously exciting to witness.
In digesting the outfielders stats from 2018 you will notice a slight decrease in his strikeout percentage (25.6 this year/29.2 during 2017 season) and a minimal increase in his walk rate (6.5 this season/5.6 in 2017). Renfroe is a power hitter though. The strikeouts are just part of his game. You just have to live with them. He has increased the walk rate, but that is nothing to get too excited about. Renfroe walked only four times in the month of August, but recorded a .935 OPS for the month. Perhaps he didn’t necessarily need to be more patient at the plate.
So how has he transformed into a better hitter?
He is getting on base at a better clip. A .308 OBP is not very exciting, but when you factor that he was at .284 last season, you get a sense of his growth. In his impressive month of August he was at .322 for a OBP. Renfroe is not a table-setter. His job is to knock in runs and he appears to be rounding into form in that regard.
When watching a batting practice session from Renfroe, it is painfully obvious that the ball just jumps off of his bat. When struck, the ball just makes a different sound. That cannot be taught. Recently, he has been getting inside the ball and driving the ball to the middle of the field and towards right center. The right handed hitter has finally accepted the fact he can drive the ball out to all fields. His transformation might be complete. His usage of the whole field and allowing the ball to travel a bit to him, may transform his game to the next level.
The walks are still not there and that is clear, but in looking at his analytical numbers you will see that he is swinging at more pitches in the strike zone now than he ever has. In the past, Hunter took pitches that were called strikes, and now he simply is not. He is driving mistakes all over the field and jumping on pitchers early in the count (hitting .417 with four homers this season on the first pitch).
Right now, Hunter Renfroe IS the Padres most dangerous hitter. His .827 OPS is on the rise and he already has 21 home runs in 332 at bats. At 26, there is much to love about the outfielder and his potential. His growth and development has come at the right time for a franchise that is about to become very relevant. At this point Renfroe is very much in the teams plans. You simply cannot ignore his production over the past month and a half. Enjoy, Padre fans. Enjoy.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.
I feel like you’re writing about Ken Griffey Jr. back in the early 90’s… Is everyone on this team doing extraordinary things?
Yes, he has made positive strides with his offense, but he also needs to get better with his throwing accuracy and hitting the cutoff man.
As a regular reader of EVT, it is great to be able to read the kind of in depth coverage and analysis of my team that can’t always be found elsewhere.
But there is a tendency for writers to treat a short term improvement – otherwise known as a hot streak, or a small sample size- as proof of a new level of performance for a player. Renfroe’s hot August, with 9 HRs and an OPS of .935 is not his new performance level. No more than his brutal July was (OPS .663).
And a small reality check. At 26, 27 in the off season, there is very little potential left. Very few position players make real improvements after age 27.
There is more cause for optimism with Reyes. He is only 23 and already matching Renfroe’s output. 23 versus 27 might not seem like a lot in the real world, but it is a generation in baseball years.
Honestly, I hope we hold onto Renfroe — he could become a franchise player, and we’ve have a real shortage of those over the past 20 years.
Good commentary Tanned Tom. I appreciate the excitement too sometimes but headlining the article with “The San Diego Padres’ outfielder Hunter Renfroe continues to impress beyond belief” would signify to any reasonable person that Renfroe is doing something spectacular. Superlatives for Renfroe would be “average”; “decent”; or perhaps “promising”. Truth is, he’s gaining ground on becoming average in most categories and is resembling a dumbed-down version of Yasiel Puig (massive potential for talent with intermittent results). You are correct, there is little potential left. It would be nice if there was more neutral analysis from these writers. Being an apologist is a tall order for this team. I was actually curious if there is some kickback or benefits from the club because analysis is generally one-sided and semi fictional. I guess that’s great as long as everyone believes it.