Position Battle: Right Field

Position Battle: Right Field

For the first time since an ill-fated attempt to jump-start a competitive team in 2015 the Padres appear to have playoff aspirations. An energized fan base has quickly taken to our new superstar Manny Machado and expectations have risen for the club. Many positions are seemingly locked down due to superior talent at their positions or the financial commitment made to the players. One of the remaining camp battles as Spring Training rolls on is Right Field.

Hunter Renfroe vs. Franmil Reyes

Hunter Renfroe is one of the few remaining players from the pre-AJ Preller era. A first round draft pick in 2013, his prodigious power has carried him through the minors. He burst onto the scene with his first call up in September 2016 but has since disappointed to make the adjustments to become the star player we had come to hope he would be.

Franmil Reyes was signed during the 2011 internationally signing period out of the Dominican Republic. He was far less heralded prospect moving up the minor league ranks. He even was left off the 40-man roster last offseason exposing him in the Rule V draft. He could have been drafted by another team willing to give him a spot on their major league roster for the duration of the season with minimal acquisition cost.

2019 Offensive Projection

Renfroe .246/.297/.463, 23 homeruns, 6.1 BB %, 25.4 K %, wRC+104

Reyes .251/.320/.458, 26 homeruns, 8.8 BB %, 25.6 %, wRC+111

From an offensive prospective both Franmil and Hunter bring similar tools to the plate. Both have light tower power and both strikeout more than you would hope for in a middle of the order bat. That said, Steamer projections for the coming season show Reyes clearly has an advantage in OBP, which has continued the Achilles heel of the Padres in recent seasons.  While both players are serviceable when it comes to offense Reyes being 11% above league average over Renfroe at merely 4% which gives Franimal the inside track to the Opening Day start in RF.

Defensive Assessment

2018 Stats

Renfroe Fielding % .952, 3 DRS, -1.4 UZR/150

Reyes Fielding % .982, -1 DRS, -11.7 UZR/150

With a couple more seasons to his credit, the stats for Renfroe are a little more indicative of his ability to play defense. For both aspiring starters the advanced defensive metrics show they are going to bring average to below average value at their position. Simply put Renfroe is the superior defender in right field. Renfroe has seen his UZR/150 improve each season and has a superior throwing arm. Reyes has performed admirably but thus far has shown himself to be a defensive liability.

The Decision

At this juncture in Spring Training Franmil Reyes appears to have the upper hand on the job. He is projected for 1.5 wins above replacement this season even with his defensive shortcomings. Hunter Renfroe for now has only been projected for .7 wins above replacement and will continue to struggle to increase his value without improving his plate discipline. Both Renfroe and Reyes are being paid around league minimum of $555,000 so financial considerations for this season are minimal but Hunter is coming up on his first year of arbitration eligibility. If Franmil struggles or another injury hits Hunter is in a prime spot to make his presence known. 

This is new TKF contributor Chris Yumen. Follow on Twitter @CySouthbay

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I have been following the Padres since my first game in 1996. I grew up in the South Bay and graduated from a local university. I have since moved to the Northeast for work but my passion for My Padres remain. Look forward to watching the Pads as perennial playoff contenders.

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