San Diego Padres’ outfielder Hunter Renfroe is having a great 2019. He has already set a new high in home runs for a season, and that comes as no surprise to the right-handed slugger.
With 27 homers and a .921 OPS, Hunter Renfroe is enjoying his best season in the major leagues.
He was left off the home run derby competition for this season’s MLB All-Star game. Despite the fact he and teammate Franmil Reyes continually power the ball over the fence, each was not asked to participate. Renfroe took the news in stride. “I can’t control who they pick. I’ll just keep doing my thing,” Renfroe said. He genuinely seemed unconcerned with the non-invitation. The Padres team as a whole are focused on more important goals than individual accolades and recognition.
The 27-year-old, former first-round pick in 2013 out of Mississippi State looks completely locked in at the plate, and his hands have a lot to do with it. “I keep them (hands) quiet and launch. I work on getting into the right position when I fire. It is about getting ready to hit and calming down. Then launching when I am ready,” Renfroe explains. The work with his hands has been an ongoing effort for the slugger. “I just go in the cage and work on it. It is one of those things where there is no drill; you just have to do it.”
The effort to calm his hands has been successful. With that, he has come to the park each day with renewed confidence. “Getting in there and getting at-bats has improved my confidence. I battled injuries the last few years and being injury free this year is huge for me,” Renfroe tells East Village Times. Health limited him the last two seasons, and Renfroe explains that he is more confident about his physical condition than anything else.
The Padres have outfield depth and playing time was not always certain for Renfroe. He spent much of the beginning of the year on the bench. “I don’t worry about those kind of things. I always cheer on my teammates, and I love being on the team. If I am playing or not, I am cheering on my guys,” Renfroe said with a serious look on his face. This mental development has helped the slugger too. He fully understands that he cannot control everything in the game. When an opportunity arises, you need to be ready.
To get the best out of an opportunity to play, you need to be prepared. Renfroe went on a mission this year as he was healthy and focused. The statistics we see now are the result. “I have been working hard since spring training,” Renfroe said. His hitting has improved, but Renfroe has turned himself into a plus defender as well. Renfroe has put up a 0.6 WAR this year via defense, which is the first time he has been positive in that statistic since coming to the major leagues. “We want to have the best outfield in the major leagues. For me, working on going to my right was a big thing. Drop steps and route running was also what I have worked hard on. Getting a good first step. I want to win a Gold Glove,” Renfroe said with a grin. He is focused and determined to get better. Motivation is an excellent thing for ballplayers.
In Mississippi, Hunter Renfroe pitched in high school. There are reports that he was clocked as high as 99 mph on the mound. That does not come as a surprise, as Renfroe has one of the best throwing arms of all major league outfielders. At times, position players are allowed to pitch, but Padres fans will not see Renfroe toeing the rubber any time soon. “They won’t let me. I have asked many times. They know what will happen. If I get to two strikes on someone, I am trying to hit triple digits,” Renfroe said with a smile. Having him on the mound would be interesting to watch, but there is too much risk involved in ever having Renfroe pitch.
The San Diego Padres have excellent chemistry right now. There are a lot of different faces in the group, but they all mix together very well and genuinely have fun playing the game with each other. “It is great. We mesh really well together. There is no cancer in the clubhouse. That is a testament to the guys scouting and who they have brought to the team. Everyone here is awesome, and we get along really well. Even the guys in Triple-A are great guys,” Renfroe said. These men do enjoy the company of one another and that bond will only help in the win column.
In closing, the fans have been excellent this year. The players appreciate all the support, and Renfroe is no different. “I appreciate the fans a lot. This year, there have been more fans than ever before. I don’t know if it because of Manny (Machado), but the fans have shown a lot of love to us, and I really appreciate that. I look forward to seeing more of them out here,” Renfroe said. The quiet outfielder has excelled this year in communication. He has grown as a ballplayer and the fans appreciate all his hard work. Renfroe is a homegrown Padre and that is reason to be proud.