Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com ((Sept. 16, 2016 – Source: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images North America)
The Boston Red Sox made a somewhat surprising move in the wake of their 4-1 win over the Yankees. Recently acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler pulled his hamstring and was placed on the 10-day disabled list. While Brandon Phillips seemed like the natural call-up, the Red Sox opted to call up Tony Renda, a little-known utility player. With such a little-known player about to occupy a spot on the best roster in baseball, let’s take a look at who Tony Renda is, and how he can help the Red Sox.
Introducing Tony Renda, the Newest Red Sox
Renda initially came up through the Washington Nationals farm system before making his major league debut in 2016 with the Cincinnati Reds. While in Cincinnati, Renda hit an underwhelming .183/.246/.217 slash line, good for a 25 wRC+. While he only had 67 major league plate appearances, it didn’t look like he had much of a future in baseball. He spent 2017 in the Reds and Diamondbacks minor league system before joining the Portland Sea Dogs in 2018.
So far, Renda has had something of a career year. Renda spent 26 games at Portland, hitting .371/.435/.577 before earning a promotion to Pawtucket. Renda continued his success with the PawSox, hitting .318/.344/.424 in 20 games. That said, his numbers are inflated due to an unsustainably-high BABIP. Still, his strikeout rate is relatively low, and he makes consistent contact. He’s not a power hitter, but he’s good at getting seeing-eye singles.
While his offense is just ok, Renda’s versatility likely earned him a call-up over Brandon Phillips. While Phillips is exclusively a second baseman, Renda has the ability to play all over the field. In 2018 alone, Renda has started at second base, third base, left field, and right field. While he’s most comfortable in the infield, he can play outfield in a pinch when required.
The Boston Red Sox are incredibly beat up at the moment and need a player with versatility. Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart, and Ian Kinsler are all on the disabled list, while Xander Bogaerts is playing through an injured wrist. The injury woes were so great that Mookie Betts ended up playing second base for the majority of Friday’s win against the Yankees.
While having Tony Renda on the 25-man roster isn’t ideal, the utility man will have a role on the team. He’s in the midst of the best offensive season of his career, even if it has been aided by a considerable amount of batted ball luck.
His versatility will allow him to fill in just about anywhere on the field at a moments notice. While his defense isn’t remarkably good or bad, he’ll provide a decently reliable glove wherever he needs to play. Is he going to take the league by storm? Not at all. However, he’s more than capable of holding down a roster spot until Devers, Swihart, or Kinsler get healthy.