Most surprising Red Sox player of 2023 -- No. 2: Jarren Duran
If you had asked me where Jarren Duran would be at the end of the 2023 season, I would've said that he'd be manning center field in Polar Park, begging for a chance to come back up to Boston. Duran's leap at the plate genuinely stunned me as it happened (and I think it shocked Alex Cora, too), and it really is a shame that he lost the rest of his season to turf toe, because it had felt like he established himself as an everyday player, and a genuine asset for the Red Sox to leverage.
One of the main things that led to Duran's improvement was, as simple as it sounds, getting the bat on the ball more often. Duran's strikeout rate fell to a career-low 24.9% this season, while his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) skyrocketed to .381 and his hard hit percentage (percentage of balls hit with an exit velocity at or above 95 mph) jumped to 46.3% in 102 games this season. While his numbers still pale in comparison to the same numbers from the big names in the majors, they do place Duran as one of the better hitters on the Red Sox this year, which I had very little hope of ever seeing come out of Duran in a given year.