It’s no secret that the bottom third of lineup has been a weakness for the Red Sox this season. Between Bobby Dalbec, Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez, none are hitting above .240 this season. Christian Arroyo has been better but he only hit .211 in May. The only bright spot outside the heart of lineup has been Hunter Renfroe. After a terrible start in April, Renfroe was one of the best hitters for Boston in May, hitting .319 in 24 games. As Renfroe heats up, he could be the difference maker if this team wants to be in contention throughout the season.
Renfroe’s performance will be key for the Red Sox if they want to keep pace with Tampa Bay and New York. With a starting rotation that is good but not great, Boston needs to be capable of winning high-scoring games. That’s hard to do if the bottom of lineup can’t hit consistently and lacks power. If his performance in May is any indication, Renfroe is capable of both.
After initially looking like a free agency bust, hitting .167 at the end of April, Renfroe became a different player in May. He hit a home run in the final game of the month against the Astros, marking his sixth in May, tied for second on the team. Renfroe also was tied for the team lead with 29 hits in May. Additionally, his defense has also been great. According to Fangraphs, Renfroe’s 5 Plus-Minus Runs Saved is tied for fourth best among all outfielders this season. At only $3 million, Renfroe has proven to be a bargain.
With 12 games against AL East teams in June, not including Baltimore, Boston is approaching one of its toughest stretches of the season. If the team wants to still be in contention come July, they will need all hands on-deck.
Renfroe Heats Up for the Summer
When the trade deadline comes around at the end of July, Renfroe’s performance could determine if Boston wants to be a buyer or seller. If Boston is still in contention and Renfroe is still producing, the team can focus on making moves to improve the pitching staff. If the team struggles, Renfroe’s cheap contract may make him a trade target for other teams.
Boston has outperformed expectations to this point in the season and Renfroe is one of the reasons why they have sustained success. The team will need find other sources of offense on days when J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers have an off-day. If Renfroe continues to be a consistent hitter for the rest of the season, the Red Sox should keep up with the rest of the AL East.