Andrew Benintendi enters his second full year in the Bigs with a certain amount of expectations upon him. Being one of the brightest young stars of the league, he’s expected to improve upon his impressive rookie campaign, in which he finished 2nd in ROY voting, and provide a good-to-very-good bat at the top of the Red Sox order.
Benintendi spent most of the 2017 season towards the top of the order for John Farrell. He got a majority of his at-bats in #2 spot, but also took a decent amount of swings at leadoff and even 3rd. Looking at the roster now, I would expect Alex Cora to slot him back into that 2nd spot, but I also think it’s feasible that we see him spending a large portion of the season at #3; it really depends on if Cora prefers new power bat J.D. Martinez in the 3rd slot or cleanup.
Let’s break down his numbers from 2017.
Last year Benintendi hit .271 (a roughly .20 point drop-off from his limited time in 2016) with 20 dingers, 90 RBI and a .776 OPS. These are good numbers for anyone, especially a 22-year old kid seeing his first extended action in The Show, but the organization would normally expect a little higher BA from it’s #2 hitter.
If all goes well and Benintendi progresses in the way most experts foresee him to, expect an extremely productive, all-star caliber season out of him. My guess would put him right around .290 hitting, plus adding a handful more home runs as he continues to get comfortable against top level pitching.
Of course, the worst case scenario would see Benintendi follow in Mookie Betts’ footsteps, which saw the 2016 MVP candidate drop nearly .60 points from his BA in 2017. I wouldn’t count on that happening, though. Benintendi seems to be a smart player, one who takes his craft seriously and works hard to improve as much as possible.
Add in the fact that Benintendi makes up one-third of the “3 B’s,” the best defensive outfield in baseball, and I think that the Sox have a superstar in the making who will continue to progress and improve into one of the best position players around.
Fingers crossed that all goes to plan.