Five Underrated Players on the 2024 Boston Red Sox

Disappointing results for the Boston Red Sox have kept these five players from the national recognition they deserve for their play in 2024.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 6: Jarren Duran #40 of the Boston Red Sox runs out onto the field prior to first pitch against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on May 6, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

For a third consecutive year, the Boston Red Sox find themselves as a frustratingly average baseball team, lacking the star power and household names of their divisional rivals in Baltimore and New York. With the eyes of the baseball world focused elsewhere, five Red Sox have quietly dominated, and it is time that they get the recognition they deserve.

Let’s take a look at the five players on the Red Sox who have most exceeded expectations this year. With these players, the hope would be that the Red Sox could have a budding core forming in Boston that could find more success in the coming years.

Tanner Houck 

The first player on this list is the one who has probably garnered the most attention, but the level to which he has been recognized still pales in comparison to his accomplishments. Tanner Houck has been absolutely dominant on the mound for Boston this season, blossoming into a true ace under the tutelage of pitching coach Andrew Bailey. 

Houck leads all of baseball in FIP with a 2.19, situational wins saved with 2.8, is third in ERA with a 2.08, and fourth in WAR amongst pitchers with 3.1. Twelve of Houck’s 14 starts have been quality starts, and in the two that were not he went 5.2 innings; he has not had a truly bad appearance all season. He has absolutely dominated in every statistical category this season, and has a legitimate case to not only be an All-Star, but to start the midsummer classic for the American League.

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Houck’s pitching run value of 18 and breaking ball run value of 13 are both the best in baseball, and his off-speed run value of 5 is in the top 6% of the league as well.

His walk rate, barrel percentage, and ground ball rate are all in the top 10% of baseball, and his chase percentage of 32.4 is in the top 15% of MLB. All three of Houck’s main pitches have both above average vertical and horizontal movement, making him nearly impossible to hit.

Wilyer Abreu

Next on the list of underrated Red Sox is breakout star Wilyer Abreu, who has impressed with both the glove and the bat in his rookie season. Offensively, Abreu has been outstanding, hitting .272 with a .344 OBP and an .829 OPS. His OPS+ of 130 is 30 points over league average, showing just how valuable he has been for a team that at times is starved for offense.

His 22 extra-base hits combined with his seven steals through just 53 games shows an impressive combination of speed and power, exactly what you look for in a corner outfielder. 

Abreu has elite bat speed, ranking in the top 13 percent in all of baseball, and is in the top 16% and 17% for barrel percentage and hard hit percentage, respectively.

In short, Abreu hits the ball hard, and does so a lot.

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Defensively, he has also been outstanding, ranking in the top 20% in fielding run value, with an arm strength in the top 2% of the league and a defensive range in the top 21% of baseball.

The only thing that has held back Abreu this season is a recent ankle sprain, which has kept the Red Sox right fielder out of the lineup since June 3rd. Luckily, it appears that the 24-year-old will begin a rehab assignment soon.

Abreu has done everything well this season, and if he is able to come back and finish the season healthy, he has a legitimate case to be in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation.

Jarren Duran

Jarren Duran has built on his breakout campaign last season to solidify himself as an above-average everyday major leaguer. In fact, Duran has been good enough to warrant consideration to end up in Arlington for the All Star Game. Duran is tied for fourth in fWAR amongst outfielders, and is tied for ninth in wRC+. 

He has played every game for the Red Sox this season, and has scored 45 runs, driven in 30 runs, and stolen 15 bases, and accumulated 35 extra-base hits. While BABIP is usually a measure of luck, Duran’s other-worldly .343 is the result of his ridiculous speed on the bases, turning routine ground balls into singles, and routine singles into doubles; it is no surprise that his baserunning run value is the best in baseball, and that his range is in the top 5% of the league.

Duran’s batting run value is in the top 10% of baseball, and xWOBA, xBA, xSLG, AEV, and hard hit percentage are all in the top 25% or better in baseball. In short, Duran has been an absolute force offensively, and his speed and ability to create chaos on the bases has made him must-see TV.

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Connor Wong

Were it not for the likes of Adley Rutschman and Salvador Perez, Connor Wong would have a case to be an All-Star this season. Of catchers with at least 190 PA, Wong ranks sixth in baseball in bWAR. He is hitting .330 with a .391 OBP, an .840 OPS, and a 137 wRC+, all outstanding offensive marks for a catcher. 

Wong has also proved to be valuable defensively, as his ability to handle the pitching staff has helped the Red Sox shock the league with their dominance on the mound.

His pop-time of 1.95 is in the top 30% of baseball, and he has thrown out eight would-be base stealers, while allowing just two pass balls on the year. He has already accumulated 1.6bWAR, nearly half of his career total to this point.

Rob Refsnyder

Now this last guy on the list might not be a young player who can be part of the Red Sox young core for years to come, but his performance deserves recognition nonetheless.

Rob Refsnyder is not just underrated on the national level, but within the Red Sox fan base as well. The veteran journeyman has been absolutely outstanding when he has played so far this year for Boston, hitting .325 with a .391 OBP and a ridiculous 144 OPS+.

Always known as a lefty-killer, Refsnyder has shined at the plate against both left and right handed pitchers in 2024. In fact, 10 of his 14 extra-base hits, and half of his RBIs, have come against righties this season. By showing that he has the ability to hit any pitcher, Refsnyder has turned himself into an incredibly valuable fourth outfielder for this team.

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Beyond his work on the field, Refsnyder provides leadership and a veteran presence in the clubhouse for a very young core of Red Sox position players. Having played for almost a decade in the show, and for a wide variety of teams, Refsnyder is the consummate professional and able to show the Red Sox young core what it takes to be a Major League Baseball player.  

While the Red Sox may not be in World Series contention this season, and are once again unlikely to make the playoffs, these individual efforts deserve to be recognized, and give Red Sox Nation a reason to continue to tune in every night to watch their team.