The Los Angeles Angels made two big trades this offseason, and both have paid dividends. Gio Urshela was acquired first, and he's been everything the Angels could've asked for. He's played all four infield positions already, and while he's not hitting for power, he's still hitting close to .300.
While Urshela has played well, that's not the move that has made Perry Minasian look like a genius. The one that has been and continues to be is the Hunter Renfroe trade.
The Angels acquired Renfroe to give them a third proven bat in the outfield. He's been everything the Angels could've hoped for and more in the first month of the season.
LA Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe is making Perry Minasian look like a genius
Last season, the Angels had two star outfielders. Mike Trout is, well, Mike Trout, and Taylor Ward put up a remarkable season seemingly out of nowhere. Those two players were great, but the third outfield spot left a lot to be desired.
The Angels made the decision they had to make acquiring a veteran, proven bat to fill in that third outfield spot instead of hoping one of Jo Adell or Mickey Moniak would hit at the MLB level. I felt the Renfroe trade was a slam dunk at the time, and he's been even better than I expected.
The Angels right fielder is slashing .280/.356/.581 with seven home runs and 19 RBI through his first 24 games of the season. He's started all but one game, and is currently on a 45 home run pace. While I don't expect him to get to 45, it's certainly possible he gets somewhere in the mid 30's.
For years, the Angels have needed a consistent power bat not named Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Anthony Rendon is supposed to be that, but while he's been driving in runs at a nice clip, he's not hitting for really any power. When Jared Walsh comes back from the IL he's supposed to hit for power as well, but it's hard to predict it after his tough year in 2022.
Renfroe is the team leader in extra-base hits, home runs, and RBI on a team with Ohtani and Trout on it. Again, I don't expect that to last, but the fact that he's even in that discussion is huge.
There're reasons to believe Renfroe's hot start will last as well. His strikeout rate has dipped from 23.2% last season and 25.6% in his career to 17.3%. His walk rate has risen from 7.5% last season and 7.6% in his career to 10.6% thus far. His hard hit rate is up from the 70th percentile last season, to the 87th percentile this season according to baseball savant.
Even the defense from Renfroe has been better than advertised. He made that circus catch on Opening Day, and obviously has the cannon of an arm that we all knew about. He ranks in the 72nd percentile in outs above average compared to the 28th percentile last season.
I knew Renfroe would be a guy who'd push for 30 homers, but he's been more than that. He's tied for second in the AL in home runs, and tied for eighth in RBI. He's been the most consistent Angel offensively by far, and is more of a complete player than he's ever been. Giving up a couple of depth arms for this production has turned out to be a great move made by Perry Minasian.