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Mississippians in the Majors: Hunter...

Mississippians in the Majors: Hunter Renfroe

By: James Bryan Harrell - August 3, 2023

Hunter Renfroe (Photo from Los Angeles Angels player profile)

Los Angeles Angels Outfielder Hunter Renfroe is one of the top MLB players to come out of Mississippi and has been for a while now.

Hunter Renfroe was born and raised in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, before playing college baseball at Mississippi State. He was drafted 13th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres.

In this series highlighting the Magnolia State’s talent in The Show, let’s take a look at the career of Hunter Renfroe. 

Renfroe’s college days

Starting his baseball career, Hunter Renfroe was the 119th ranked high school prospect out of Copiah Academy, according to Perfect Game. He was actually drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of high school but declined signing with them to play for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

As a freshman Bulldog in 2011, Renfroe appeared in only twenty games. However, he did hit for a .200 average in seven SEC games played.  

Renfroe would see a big boost in production in his sophomore season in 2012. In 60 starts, the outfielder hit for a .252 average, while placing second on the team with 58 hits. Renfroe also developed his skills in the field, setting a school record and leading the SEC with 10 outfield assists.

Renfroe finally put it all together as a junior in 2013. In his final season with the Bulldogs, Renfroe was a consensus All-American and All-SEC first team selection. He started 66 games, mostly in right field, tallying a .345 batting average to go along with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs. During the season, Renfroe had a 15 game hit streak, but really turned it on in the postseason. His production led Mississippi State to the College World Series finals, where they would ultimately come up short to UCLA. 

Called up to The Show

After his dominant year in 2013, Renfroe was drafted 13th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres. After a few years in the developmental leagues, Renfroe made his MLB Debut for the Padres on September 21, 2016. He would finish the year appearing in 11 games, holding a .371 batting average.

In 2017, Renfroe would make the opening day roster as the starting right fielder. He finished the season with 26 home runs in 117 starts for the team. Renfroe picked up his production in 2018, leading the team with 26 home runs for the second consecutive year, along with a batting average around .250 and on base percentage above .300. 

Midway through the 2019 season, Renfroe was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. In a shortened 2020 season, he tallied 8 home runs and 22 RBIs in 42 games for the team. The following year, he became a free agent. 

Signing a one-year contract with the Red Sox in 2020, Renfroe saw a return in his production while in Boston. During the regular season, he played in 144 games, carrying a .259 average to accompany 31 home runs and 96 RBIs. According to advanced analytics, this was Renfroe’s best season in the league so far. The increased production led the Red Sox to the ALCS.

In 2021, Renfroe was again traded, moving from Boston to the Milwaukee Brewers. In the following season, he tallied 29 home runs and 72 RBIs in over 500 plate appearances. This was his lone season with Milwaukee, but it was clear Renfroe was developing a reputation as a strong power bat and defensive outfielder. 

Becoming an Angel

In 2022, Renfroe was traded once again, now with the Los Angeles Angels. He signed a contract with the team for $11.9 million for the 2023 season.

When you watch the Los Angeles Angels, the first two players you probably notice are Shoehei Ohtani, baseball’s unicorn, and Mike Trout, arguably the greatest player of the past 10 years. However, one of the stronger presences on the team for the past season has been Hunter Renfroe. Renfroe has held down the starting position in right field for the team, helping lead them to a 56-53 record, six games back from the top of the AL West. This year’s Angels team has been more competitive than those in the past, and they are right in the midst of the American League playoff race. 

So far this season, Renfroe has continued to be a plus defender in the outfield but has been near average on the offensive side. While his home run numbers are still decently high at 17, his batting average has dipped to .251 with a slugging percentage below .500. Hopefully for the Angels, Renfroe and his teammates can turn it around soon and catch fire to end this season, as they are just outside the playoff picture as it stands. 

No matter what happens to his team or where he goes next, it is clear Hunter Renfroe has been one of the better outfielders in the MLB for the better part of the last decade. All in all, his career stats average out to a 2.5 WAR, which is a fancy stat for how many wins Renfroe is worth compared to the average player. This means Renfroe has been consistently performing above average at the highest level of the sport, one of many Mississippi products to do so. 

About the Author(s)
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James Bryan Harrell

James Bryan Harrell writes about Mississippi sports and culture for Magnolia Tribune. JB is a native of West Point and is a senior at Vanderbilt University, where he is majoring in communications.