‘Complete Player’ Jarren Duran Takes Turnaround To All-Star Level

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Sox Talk with Will Middlebrooks is a recurring content series on NESN.com. Middlebrooks, a former Red Sox player and current NESN analyst, gives his insight and opinion on pertinent Red Sox storylines throughout the season. You can read the latest stories from the series here.

There’s only one player on the Boston Red Sox who has played in every one of the team’s 67 games following their loss Tuesday night to the Philadelphia Phillies.

And that’s Jarren Duran.

The 27-year-old continues to orchestrate a sensational career turnaround as the Red Sox are getting a much different version of Duran than the one on display during his first two seasons in the big leagues. Duran struggled to find his footing both at the plate and in the field before enjoying a breakout season in 2023, which ended prematurely due to a toe injury.

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Duran is a long ways away from the player he was when he first joined the Red Sox. Now, Duran is a borderline All-Star.

“We’re starting to see the complete player,” Will Middlebrooks told NESN.com.

Duran been nothing short of a sparkplug at the top of Boston’s order and showcases his elite speed daily to be a menace on the basepaths, leading to a perfect nickname for him from Middlebrooks. He leads all of MLB with an eye-popping 10 triples, which is more than 16 teams have total. Duran also owns a team-high 15 stolen bases.

Making that all happen is his ability to get on base. Duran is batting .263 with five home runs and 27 RBIs while walking 26 times, which is two more than he registered all of last season in 104 games.

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Duran’s bat sure has been impactful, but in the batter’s box is not where Middlebrooks sees the most growth from the speedy outfielder.

“His biggest leap forward is defensively,” Middlebrooks said. “Not only in center field when (Ceddanne) Rafaela’s playing short, but in left field. You can really stick him anywhere. He’s getting good jumps, he’s getting good reads, his route efficiency. You just watch how he gets to balls. He’s not just making the routine plays, he’s making the plus-plus plays.

“He’s getting to the balls that he wasn’t getting to because I think there was a lack of confidence. So, when there’s a lack of confidence in the big leagues, your first step is slow because you immediately question yourself and then go. And now he’s just like impact of the ball, gone. That’s just reps and experience and trusting yourself because you’ve put in the work.”

It’s almost hard to imagine Duran has yet to sit for a game given the surplus of outfielders the Red Sox started with at the start of the season.

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But this was the plan all along for Duran. Middlebrooks said Alex Cora and Duran, who has been open about his mental health struggles, had a conversation in spring training in which the Red Sox manager instilled more confidence in the California native by telling him he would play in every situation imaginable.

Cora commitment to Duran and sticking with him through the tough times to get to this point is a big piece of the puzzle in Duran’s ascension.

“There’s natural tools that you can’t teach and some of those are aggression and speed and instinct. He’s always had that,” Middlebrooks said. “There was just fear of failure slowing him down. So, I’m not surprised at all because it’s always been in there. He’s always had this in there. He needed to believe it.”

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