Padres outfielder Hunter Renfroe has turned things around in a big way defensively and should be rewarded for it.
In a season that featured the acquisition of “El Ministro de Defensa” Manny Machado along with the calling up of stud prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, the Padres were expected to be strong defensively this season.
However, it has been Hunter Renfroe who has impressed the most with the glove in 2019.
Let’s start from the beginning when Renfroe was an average to below-average defender in 2017.
He had 1 Defensive Run Saved (DRS) with a negative Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of -5.6 and -0.4 dWAR.
It’s not hard to figure out that Renfroe has worked hard each offseason to improve his numbers.
He has steadily improved each year until now; he is among the elite outfield defenders in baseball. He leads all outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved with 23.
For reference, here are the numbers for last year’s Gold Glove winners among National League outfielders.
|2018 GG winners||DRS|
Clearly, Renfroe has the numbers to put himself squarely in the conversation of winning a Gold Glove.
Winning awards is certainly not the endgame for the Padres and their fans. However, coming from a small market town with a team that is consistently sub-par, getting national recognition like winning a Gold Glove is a big deal. The Padres have not had a Gold Glover in the outfield since Mike Cameron in 2006 and have not had a winner for any position since Chase Headley won one at third base in 2012.
Renfroe is near the top among National League outfielders in several categories, aside from the aforementioned Defensive Runs Saved (first). He ranks highly in UZR (first), assists (first), fielding percentage (sixth), Outs Above Average (fourth), and dWAR (third).
Renfroe’s 23 DRS is the highest by a Padres outfielder since they started counting Defensive Runs Saved as a statistic in 2003.
In a year that has taken a disappointing turn, with the Friars posting a 13-20 record in the second half and now with the discouraging news of star Fernando Tatis Jr. being out for the year with a back injury, it would be nice to see a Padres player earn some recognition and salvage some of the good feelings the Padres’ fanbase had to start the year. Renfroe has broken out in a big way at the plate and in the field this year.
The only thing working against him is that he has split time between right field and left field, playing 342 innings in right field and 478 innings in left field. To some Gold Glove voters, that may come into play.
Other than that, the numbers are unquestionable. Renfroe should win a Gold Glove.