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2023 in Review: Ol’ Reliable Rob Refsnyder

Thankfully, someone to rely on in the field and at the plate.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

2023 In One Sentence

Coming off the bench, Rob Refsnyder did everything we asked of him in the outfield and against left-handed pitching.

The Positives

First and foremost, he made zero errors in 2023, a glorious achievement for our team. Offensively, Refsnyder can work an at-bat, and he doesn’t chase much.

He led the Sox for a good portion of the season in on-base-percentage (imagine that!). Kudos to Refsnyder but it also has to be acknowledged that our 2023 Sox weren’t exactly awesome offensively. He eventually finished third on the team at .365 (though as a bench player, of course he had a smaller sample size than many).

He posted a .248/.365/.342 slash line, one home run, 28 RBIs, with a .682 OPS in 2023.

He also qualifies as a nice guy and usually has something thoughtful and humble to say.

I hope the lack of dramatic stats here doesn’t either seem to damn him with faint praise, or make it sound like there’s nothing to celebrate in Refsnyder’s game. Such is the life of a bench player, I guess. I really do want to acknowledge Refsnyder as a consistent and reliable piece of our puzzle in 2023. Not many on our team can say that; think of the injuries, or errors, or drama that so many Sox players brought to the table.

And then there’s our Rob! I appreciate him, I really do.

The Negatives

I find myself scratching my head a little bit on this one. Refsnyder does exactly what is asked of him: providing off-days for the starting outfielders, making good contact against lefties, being steady on defense.

What negatives can I mention…he slipped that one time on the outfield grass against the Yankees? Doesn’t matter, it was an exciting play and the Yankees went nuts over the ensuing drama and the overturned call and we won the game. Do we fault him for not being a different type of player—one who might start every day, or carry a team? No way. We all have our job to do in this world. Refsnyder’s found his, by coming off the bench against lefties and keeping his cool.

I suppose I could note that his 0.4 WAR was not as good as last year’s 1.2, but much better than the previous several years, which were between -0.1 and -0.3, going all the way back to his rookie season in 2015. I don’t see this as a terrible negative (more like a nitpicky one), and just more evidence of his career renaissance since joining the Sox and proof that he’s found his niche as a fourth outfield option on this team. (If a downward trend continues in 2024, then we can talk.)

Best Game Or Moment

Refsnyder doesn’t typically put together a dramatic highlight reel, he just plays some head-down baseball. I kind of like this single that gave the Sox the lead against Texas late in the season. As you might recall, things were looking really grim for a while there, especially after the team had occasionally teased that they might eventually be able to put something significant together on the season. You can see by Justin Turner’s reaction from the dugout how much the team needed this contribution from Refsnyder.

2024 and Beyond

In June the Sox signed him to a one-year contract extension for 2024. There are several performance bonuses based on at-bats, and a club option for the 2025 season. Although our outfield just underwent a significant change with the Alex Verdugo trade, and Craig Breslow surely has more up his sleeve (how those as-yet-unmade moves might impact the outfield remains to be seen, of course), I predict that Refsnyder will continue to be a solid fourth outfielder in 2024, coming in against left-handed pitching. And I welcome it.