Hunter Renfroe has currently racked up 11 assists in just 74 games. For context, Andrew Benintendi was tied for the league lead with 12 in 2018 after playing 148 games (Mitch Hanger did so in 157 games and Billy Hamilton in 153). Let’s take a look at Renfroe’s stats in context of the last 21 years and see where he’ll stack up if he can keep it up until season’s end.
The Best of the Best
Outfield assists is obviously a counting stat. So the more games you play, the easier it is to rack ’em up. Since 2000, every league leader in outfield assists has played at least 82% of their team’s games. That equates to at least 134 games (Juan Rivera in 2004), but most are playing 140+ games. Currently, Renfroe’s played in 86% of the Sox’s games this year. He should play around 139 games by the end of the season. He’s right in line there!
Outfield Assists Rate
In terms of numbers, the range to lead the league in OF assists in a full season (so, outside of 2020) is between 12-22. As mentioned previously, Benintendi, Haniger, and Hamilton all had 12 in 2018. The most in a season this century is tied between Alfonso Soriano and Richard Hidalgo with 22 in 2006 and 2003, respectively. Renfroe is halfway there. If he plays a higher percentage of games after the All-Star break, he has a chance to surpass that mark.
Factoring in number of assists and games played for the league leaders, I’ve come up with an outfield assist rate for each leader in the year they won. It’s not a complicated stat. But it gives a good indication on what an “average” assist rate is in order to lead the league.
In 30 seasons (3 tied in 2018, 2 in 2013, 3 in 2007, and 2 in 2004 and 2001), most players recorded an assist rate of .10-.13 (meaning they record an assist in 10-13% of their games). The lowest was Mitch Haniger in 2018 at .076. The highest is Hidalgo in 2003 with a .156 OFA rate (22 in 141 games). Renfroe’s current rate is .148, second among league leaders. If his rate stays consistent with his playing time, he’s on pace for just about 21 assists in 139 games. Pretty impressive for a guy without a Gold Glove.
In the chance Renfroe can keep his OFA rate and play more games post All-Star break, he’ll be in serious consideration for one of the best defensive seasons this century in terms of his assists alone. Let’s hope other teams keep trying his arm out in right field.
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