Normally, a 20-20 inaugural season puts you in contention for Rookie of the Year honors, but when someone else shatters the first-year home run record, you fall short. Such is the case for Andrew Benintendi, one of only nine hitters to accomplish the aforementioned feat. Benintendi's impressive season occurred in spite of a weak showing versus southpaws. The lefty-swinging outfielder sported a meek .622 OPS in 112 at bats when saddled with the platoon disadvantage. That said, it's encouraging Benintendi's struggles weren't making contact, but hitting too many medium-speed grounders with a lefty on the hill. This should be correctable with an adjustment, baking in some upside to Benintendi's already impressive skill set versus righties. Also promising is the youngster walked at a greater clip against lefties. A power-speed combo doesn't come cheap, but considering Benintendi is likely to get better, while hitting in a productive spot in a lineup destined to improve from 2017, he's worth a high draft pick or an extra buck or two at the auction table.
Benintendi went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in Sunday's game against the Orioles, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. It was the second homer in as many games for Benintendi, who has hit safely in all six spring games thus far. Benintendi's homer came off a hitable pitch on a 0-0 count where he jumped on it, an example of a more aggressive approach he plans to adopt this year. The patient hitter we saw last year might have let that pitch go by, particularly if it wasn't in the exact spot he wanted. That put him in a lot of 1-2, 0-2 counts. "Last year was probably the most patient I've ever been," said Benintendi, who had an 11 percent walk rate. "Being more aggressive early in the count will give me another shot of driving the ball. It's definitely something I'm going to do this year for sure." The aggressive hitting approach, one he employed throughout his college career at Arkansas, is favored by Boston's new hitting coach, Tim Hyers. The old Red Sox approach of grinding out at-bats and building pitch counts will take a backseat to swinging at pitches a batter can drive.
Benintendi arrived at spring training noticeably more bulked up, Ian Browne of MLB.com reports. Benintendi said he wore down a bit in 2017, his rookie season, so he went about preparing himself for the long haul in 2018. A 20-20 player as a rookie, Benintendi looks like he could surpass the 20 home runs he hit last year. As for the speed that was part of his game, the 23-year-old left fielder doesn't believe the added bulk will affect him, noting the agility work he put in during the offseason in conjunction with the weights.
Benintendi is out of the lineup Sunday against the Astros, Tim Britton of The Providence Journal reports. Rajai Davis will start in left field and hit leadoff while Benintendi gets the day to rest. Benintendi was terrific in his first full season in the majors and will carry a .271/.352/.424 line into the postseason.
Benintendi went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and a strikeout in Saturday's division-clinching 6-3 win over the Astros. With exactly 20 home runs and 20 steals, the 23-year-old becomes the youngest left fielder to log a 20/20 campaign since Barry Bonds in 1987, according to Ryan Spaeder of Sporting News. Benintendi also has a .271 average, 90 RBI and 84 runs, and will enter 2018 as one of the top five-category outfielders on draft boards.
Benintendi (leg) is in the lineup Wednesday against the Blue Jays, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. Benintendi hit his leg with a foul ball on two occasions Tuesday, but was confident that he'd be ready to play Wednesday night. That will be the case, as he's starting in left field and hitting third. He'll look to get back on track at the plate, as he's posted a disappointing .200 batting average over the last seven games.
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