At just 24 years old, Andrew Benintendi is one of the brightest young stars in all of baseball. Initially making his major league debut back in 2016, Benintendi is slowly establishing himself as one of the best players in all of baseball. He has one of the most beautiful swings in the league and made the play of the year to close out Game Four of the ALCS. However, Benintendi isn’t a finished product and still has room for development. If everything breaks right for Benintendi, he could find himself in the MVP hunt by the end of the season.
2019 Boston Red Sox Preview: Andrew Benintendi
After a relatively pedestrian 2017, Benintendi took a major step forward during the 2018 season. Playing in 148 games, Benintendi finished the 2018 season with a .290/.366/.465 slash line and an accompanying 122 wRC+. He improved almost every statistic from 2017 and continued to develop into one of the league’s most exciting stars.
Benintendi is a well-rounded prospect, but his bat is ahead of his glove and his baserunning. That said, Benintendi made big strides in both categories throughout the years. After starting the year as a disaster on the basepaths, Benintendi slowly improved into a league-average baserunner by the end of the year. While he’ll never be Ricky Henderson, Benintendi has promising speed and has the potential to be an above-average baserunner.
Defensively speaking, Benintendi is the worst of the Red Sox outfielders. However, that says a lot more about Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts than it does Benintendi. The 24-year old would make an average center fielder, but the Red Sox are so stacked with outfield talent that they can put him in left field. Benintendi has an above average arm and above average range for any given outfielder. However, since left field is the easiest position to play, Benintendi’s natural gifts play up even more, making him one of the best defensive left fielders in the game.
If Andrew Benintendi never improved on 2018, he would be considered as one of the better players in the league. However, there’s plenty of reasons to believe that Benintendi will continue to improve in 2019 and beyond.
The first thing Benintendi needs to do is find more consistent power. After hitting 20 home runs during his rookie season, Benintendi entered the All-Star break with 14 homers. This was a highly encouraging development, as he had an outside chance to reach 30 home runs on the season.
However, something went wrong during the second half of the year. Benintendi hit just two home runs for the remainder of the season, as the young lefty simply couldn’t put the ball over the fence. While he still hit for average, his lack of power made him a league-average hitter in the second half of the season.
Benintendi needs to work keep his power throughout the entire season. Per Fangraphs, Benintendi was 39% better than the league average hitter during the first half of the season, and 4% worse than the average hitter in the second half of the season. His batter average only dropped 10 points during this period, so this dramatic dip comes entirely from a lack of power.
Steamer Projections has Benintendi being essentially the same player in 2019 that he was in 2018. The projection site expects Benintendi to finish with a .286/.365/.463 slash line and a 122 wRC+. After hitting 16 home runs in 2018, they expect him to hit 18 in 2019.
This feels like a low prediction. Benintendi is at the age where he should continue to improve on a year-by-year basis. He has all the tools to be one of the best players in baseball and is at the age where he should only be getting better. Benintendi hit 20 homers in 2017, so it’s not like he’s incapable of getting out of the teens.
Chances are Benintendi’s second-half drop was due to not being used to playing that long of a season. With another year under his belt, his body should hold up better to a full season of work. The sky is truly the limit with Benintendi. He may not ever be as good as Mookie Betts (nobody is), but he could easily be the Red Sox second-best player in 2019.