After Trading Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi and letting Jackie Bradley Jr. walk in free agency it was expected the defense would take a step back. JBJ and Betts won five Gold Glove awards between them with the Sox. Benny was no slouch in the field either. The trio was considered one of the best defensive outfields in baseball when they played together. Without them the consensus was the Red Sox outfield might be a liability this year.
Assisting the Team
Not only has the mishmash of players to suit up in the outfield worked out, but they have also been a major bright spot on a good team. Currently, they lead all of baseball with 28 outfield assists. Since the year 2000, only the Kansas City Royals have reached 50 outfield assists in a single season. They got 51 in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012. To put into perspective how incredible the rate at which Boston has gotten outfield assists, the team currently in second is the Miami Marlins with 19 outfield assists.
The Star Outfielders
Hunter Renfroe has been the biggest catalyst for the uptick in assists this season. He currently leads the league in outfield assists with 11. His career high coming into this season was 13 when he was with the San Diego Padres in 2019. It is safe to say when Chaim Bloom signed him this offseason no one saw this kind of defensive output coming. Another offseason signing that has paid big dividends in the field has been Kike Hernandez. Picked up to be a utility player that can be slotted in pretty much anywhere in the field, Hernandez’s play in center field has been almost too valuable to put anywhere else. He sits at five outfield assists, tied for sixth in the league with Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo.
Verdugo himself has quietly played spectacular defense for the last two seasons. Picking up right where the man he was replacing, Mookie Betts, left off. Marwin Gonzalez, Danny Santana, and even J.D. Martinez, who is not known for his defense, have racked up a few assists for themselves. It seems with each passing game the outfield makes some incredible play or throw. The outfield has been elite in the field and teams are beginning to take notice that it isn’t worth trying to take that extra base against the Boston Red Sox outfield.