Why the Red Sox are giving Rob Refsnyder a shot over Jarren Duran

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JUNE 10: Rob Refsnyder #30 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after the top of the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on June 10, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JUNE 10: Rob Refsnyder #30 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after the top of the fourth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on June 10, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Here’s why Rob Refsnyder is with the Red Sox instead of Jarren Duran

The Boston Red Sox made a call to Worcester when they needed an outfielder to replace Enrique Hernandez, who was placed on the injured list with a hip flexor strain last week. While fans are eager to see more of the speedy Jarren Duran, it was the veteran Rob Refsnyder joining the team for the last leg of their west coast trip.

Technically, Jonathan Araúz replaced Hernandez but he didn’t stick around for long. Araúz was designated for assignment on Friday to clear a 40-man roster spot for Refsnyder, who appeared twice during the series in Seattle and remains with the team as they head home to Boston.

Some may be wondering why a 31-year-old journeyman is getting an opportunity over the exciting young prospect but there are several reasons why the Red Sox opted for calling up Refsnyder instead of Duran.

The primary reason why Refsnyder is in the big leagues is because Duran couldn’t be recalled yet. Duran had a brief two-game stint with the Red Sox during the series in Oakland from June 4-5. When a position player is optioned back to the minors, they must remain there for at least 10 days before they can be called back up to the big leagues.

Duran would be eligible for another call up this week but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be replacing Refsnyder. While Duran is having a strong season and certainly has more long-term upside, a case can be made that Refsnyder is the more deserving candidate at the moment.

Duran (MLB – 3 games): .308/.357/.462
Duran (AAA – 42 games): .305/.376/.517
Refsnyder (MLB – 5 games): .273/.467/.455
Refsnyder (AAA – 42 games): .306/.429/.524

Both players have been tearing it up in Triple-A, with a slight edge going to Refsnyder. Duran’s 11 steals gives him the advantage on the bases, providing an element the Red Sox have leaned on more recently, but Refsnyder has still contributed four steals of his own.

Duran has the higher batting average in the majors but Refsyder has a sizable advantage in OBP. He’s drawn a pair of walks (in addition to being hit by a pitch twice) and struck out twice in 15 plate appearances while Duran has zero walks and five strikeouts in 14 plate appearances. It’s a tiny sample size from their brief time in the majors this season but it’s notable since Duran’s struggles at the major league level last year stemmed primarily from rarely drawing walks (3.5 BB%) and striking out too much (35.7 K%).

While Duran has made strides to improve in those areas during his time in Triple-A this season (9.7 BB%, 24.7 K%), it hasn’t translated to the majors yet. He has shown signs of making hard contact to all fields instead of swinging for the fences but Duran still needs to work on his plate discipline.

Defense is another area where Duran remains a work in progress. His blazing speed and athleticism give him the tools to be a strong defensive outfielder but he’s still learning to make the right reads. He produced -5 defensive runs saved in only 31 outfield appearances last year.

The Red Sox are probably more comfortable with the veteran Refsnyder, who has been an above-average defensive outfielder in his career (9 DRS in 122 MLB games). Refsnyder showed what he could do with his glove by making an amazing diving catch on a ball headed for the gap, saving extra bases with the Red Sox clinging to a two-run lead in the eighth inning against Seattle on Sunday.

Even with his speed, Duran hasn’t shown he can get a quick enough jump to make this type of play. He’s still developing those instincts that come with experience.

Also working in Refsnyder’s favor is that he’s a right-handed hitter. With Kike sidelined by injury, the other options to fill the Red Sox outfield are primarily lefties – Alex Verdugo, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Franchy Cordero. The versatile Christian Arroyo has played some outfield but he’s best utilized in the infield. Refsnyder helps bring more balance to the lineup compared to the lefty Duran.

The Red Sox remain high on Duran’s potential and he’s going to get more opportunities at some point. In the meantime, he could use more polishing at the Triple-A level, where he barely has topped 100 games and has fewer than 500 plate appearances.

Duran is thriving in Worcester but he hasn’t been quite as good as Refsnyder, who has done nothing in his very limited time in the big leagues to suggest he isn’t deserving of this opportunity.

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