The 13th overall pick of the 2013 Draft out of Mississippi State, Hunter Renfroe was cast as the prototypical light tower hitting, cannon throwing modern day right fielder.
This Mississippi State Bulldog had a productive 2018 season.
Today, we will be taking a look at Renfroe’s PNO (Positives/Negatives/Outlook) as we continue to go through the entire roster.
From his time as an amateur, he has received grades as high as 70 in terms of his raw power. For the second straight season, Renfroe amassed 26 home runs in less than a full season worth of at-bats (403). His .504 slugging percentage led the team and his ISO was an astounding .256.
Anybody who watched the Padres consistently over the second half of the season would agree that they saw some major improvements from Renfroe. He showed an ability to hit right-handers with power. He also showcased an ability to be a little more patient at the plate. 18 out of his 26 home runs were against right-handed pitchers. Renfroe is not morphing into Joey Votto 2.0, but when a young hitter shows you the ability to drop his K% from 29.2% in ’17 to 24.7 in ’18 while raising his BB% from 5.6% to 6.8% during the same period of time you have to be happy. His cumulative numbers resulted in his wrc+ coming in at 114+ which means he was 14% better than league average.
Peak of the Future?
Outside of the ’16 September cup of coffee that he received, the Padres faithful have not been demonstrated what Hunter is capable of in a major league uniform. During August of ’18, that all changed with a career month. He hit .302 with a slugging percentage of .613 and a collective OPS of .935 which is an all-star caliber performance.
A great sign that this might be something that has the ability to carry over to ’19 is his stark increases in hard contact percentage which was 34.6% in ’17 to 47.2% in ’18. As you would assume, his soft contact rate dropped as well from 23.5% to 18.1%. A more selective hitter who is hitting same-handed pitching better and with more authority is a great thing.
Even though Hunter showed improvement from his rookie year in ’17 to ’18, he will have to show continued development in his plate discipline moving forward if he has a chance to fully unlock his immense power potential with the bat. He took a big step forward in 2018 by hitting right-handed pitching while bringing down his K/%. At the same time, he was selective and raised his BB% giving him better pitches to drive and a chance to be a middle of the order producer for this team.
Unfortunately, Hunter has not succeeded in situational hitting chances when given large opportunities. In over 110 plate appearances in ’18, he hit an abysmal .221. The mental approach seems to stress him out sometimes when the “clean up” spot calls upon his services. While hitting in the four hole he hit .229 and struck out fifty times in 144 at-bats, for a dreadful K% of 34.7%. He must improve in this area.
If Hunter makes it to opening day on the roster (save being traded), he will be looked upon as an integral part of the outfield. There is hope that the growth he showed at the plate in the second half is real. If the hitter he showed in the second half is real, the Padres might have hit on that light-tower hitting, cannon throwing outfielder. If not, he will be another tooled up player that never maximized his potential and could end up being a platoon player against left-handed pitching. The ball is in your court, Mr. Renfroe.