Benintendi plans to focus on batting average over power now that he's Boston's leadoff hitter, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports.
As baseball continues to evolve, the notion of what a leadoff hitter should be evolves along with it. No longer are speed and on-base percentage the dominant skills for the position. More teams are going with guys that drive the ball and hit double-digit home runs, and Benintendi can do that. He slugged .598 out the leadoff spot in 2018 when Mookie Betts was sidelined by an injury. While he's popped 36 home runs over the past two seasons and could reach double-digits again in 2019, Benintendi plans to prioritize average over power. "I think (batting average) is pretty important, especially with Mookie [Betts] and J.D. [Martinez] behind you," he said. "I think for me, I just want to hit over .300. That's my number and then everything else will fall into place." He should see a ton of good pitches to hit, batting in front of Betts, so achieving a .300 batting average is possible.
Manager Alex Cora said Benintendi will bat leadoff in 2019, Alex Speier of The Boston Globe reports.
Benintendi primarily hit second in 2018, but he'll swap places in the order with Mookie Betts next season as the Red Sox look to maximize Betts' value. The 24-year-old hit atop the order 21 times last season -- primarily when Betts was unavailable -- slashing .322/.381/.598 with five homers and three stolen bases in those contests. While his move to the leadoff spot will likely cut into his RBI total in 2019, he should benefit from an uptick in runs with Betts and J.D. Martinez both hitting behind him.
Benintendi is not in the lineup for Game 3 of the World Series against the Dodgers on Friday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
Manager Alex Cora didn't want to lose J.D. Martinez's bat in Dodger Stadium, so Benintendi will take a seat while Martinez draws the start in right field. Look for Benintendi to join Friday's game as a defensive replacement for Martinez if the Red Sox hold a lead going into the final few innings.
Benintendi is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Yankees, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports.
Benintendi started six of the last seven games and is 10-for-27 with six RBI in his last 31 plate appearances, but he'll nonetheless head to the bench for the regular season finale. Brock Holt will start in left field and bat second for Boston. Benintendi has a .290/.366/.465 slash line with 16 home runs and 21 stolen bases in 579 at-bats this season, although he could still come off the bench Sunday.
Benintendi went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a walk and a stolen base in Monday's win over Baltimore.
Benintendi collected his 23rd stolen base of the season in the bottom of the first inning and knocked in a run during the fourth on an infield single. The 24-year-old has put together a solid year at the dish, owning a .285/.363/.460 slash line with 16 home runs and 84 RBI through 145 games. He could see a few days off during the final week of the regular season to ensure he's well-rested for the playoffs.
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