I realized this morning that I had not posted a rookie profile for Hunter Renfroe of the San Diego Padres. I thought I had done so, but while updating the website index I discovered that this was not the case. In my mind I knew we had covered him recently, with this Hunter Renfroe Crystal Ball on March 16th, plus Asher Feltman wrote about him on March 30th in his six players with rising stock article. But those aren’t the same as a profile.
Renfroe is pretty well known by this point: first round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi State, right-handed hitter with excellent power potential and a strong throwing arm, but with significant questions about contact, batting average and OBP against the best pitching. He raked in his major league debut late in 2016, hitting .371/.389/.800, but that was just 11 games and 80 at-bats. What happens in a full season?
The sabermetric projection systems key in on the contact issues, Steamer projecting him at .249/.288/.426 with a 23.1% strikeout rate, ZIPS parsing him at .240/.278/.426 with a 27.6% whiff rate. PECOTA sees .243/.287/.446 on the season with 23.7% strikeouts. All very similar.
Through his first seven games Renfroe is hitting .250/.250/.429 with zero walks and five strikeouts in 28 at-bats. Now, granted, this is an incredibly small sample and things will change quickly, the stats moving up and down as the season progresses. But I find it remarkable that, miniscule sample or not, Renfroe’s early performance is exactly in line with what the projection systems expect over the broader season.