05 Apr

baserunners beware

Big league baserunners, or their coaches, still challenge Hunter Renfroe from time to time. More often than not, it seems, the veteran outfielder makes them regret the decision. The Mississippi State alum from Crystal Springs, now playing right field for Kansas City, threw out a runner at home on Thursday night in the Royals’ 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. On Wednesday night, he threw out a Baltimore runner at second base from the right-field corner — “an insane play,” according to a Royals broadcaster. Renfroe, perhaps best known for his power bat, has had his ups and downs as a hitter — he is currently batting .091 without a home run in 22 at-bats — but his right arm has been a consistent weapon since he reached the big leagues in 2016. He has 67 outfield assists all told, 66 since the start of 2017, which is eight more than any other outfielder, according to mlb.com. He has a season-high of 16, with Boston in 2021, and he gunned down 11 two years ago with Milwaukee. Outfield assists records are skewed toward players from the early 1900s, when baserunners were more aggressive, even reckless, and perhaps not as fast as modern-day players. The all-time mark for outfield assists, per baseballreference.com, is a ridiculous 449 (Tris Speaker, 1907-28). The active leader is Starling Marte with 100. Renfroe is seventh on that list and has played far fewer innings than the players ranked above him. The all-time leader among Mississippi natives is Dave Parker, who cut down 143 runners. The Royals are the seventh team Renfroe has played for in the the last six years, and they no doubt signed him for his power (177 career bombs), which hasn’t showed up yet in 2024. His arm might keep him in the lineup until it does.

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