Andrew Benintendi Kicks Off His Second Half With A Monster Game
Entering the season, many experts believed Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi would win the American League Rookie of the Year. Loaded with talent and a sterling pedigree, it seemed like an obvious choice.
Of course, preseason predictions are just that -- predictions. After all, no one guessed Aaron Judge would turn in perhaps the greatest first half of a rookie season in baseball history.
Benintendi has, at times, struggled to match the pre-season hype, but it would be a mistake to say the left-hander, who is still just 22-years-old, has been a disappointment.
That's especially the case after dropped some 4th of July fireworks against the Texas Rangers.
5 hits, 2 HR, 4 runs, 6 RBIs …
No one is having a better #July4 than @asben16. pic.twitter.com/cL0tWRoLuQ
— MLB (@MLB) July 5, 2017
That was Benintendi's second five-hit game of the season, but it was slightly more productive than the one against the Baltimore Orioles on April 23, in which each of his knocks were singles, giving him five total bases on the night.
Hey, five hits is still five hits, but his quintet against the Rangers -- two dingers, a double and two singles -- accounted for 12 total bases. He added an outstanding defensive play to make his game all the more complete.
For those who claim Benintendi has had a disappointing rookie campaign, the numbers tell a different story. In 288 plate appearances he's hitting .288/.361/.465 with 12 home runs, 50 RBIs and 9 steals. He's on pace for nearly 100 RBIs, and his .827 OPS ranks 9th among qualified rookies in MLB.
Andrew Benintendi's "struggles" in '17 are a lot like Carlos Correa's in '16. Benintendi on pace for 83 runs, 21 HR, 66 BB; very good.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 5, 2017
And don't forget that Benintendi is still just 22. Aaron Judge, by comparison, is 25. Most 22-year-olds are playing AA ball right now.
#RedSox Andrew Benintendi is the first player with multiple 5 hit games in a season before turning 24 since Don Mattingly in 1984.
— MLB Statistics (@MLBRandomStats) July 5, 2017
Among rookies, Benintendi's walk-to-strikeout rate is third-best in baseball (0.65), better even than Judge's (0.59). Going into Tuesday's game, he was walking in 10.4% of his plate appearances, while striking out in 15.9%, an outstanding ratio for any player, let alone a 22-year-old.
Boston has sat their young lefty against some left-handed pitching this year, but his splits indicate he's not merely a platoon guy.
Benintendi has shown more power against right-handers, but his OBP against lefties is a great sign for future success.
Andrew Benintendi might not overtake The Judge in the AL Rookie of the Year race, but if the fireworks he displayed on July 4th are any indication, his second half could be explosive.