Just what has happened to Jackie Bradley and Andrew Benintendi? The famed “Killer B’s” are mired in slumps with some interesting metrics on Benintendi.
Jackie Bradley and Andrew Benintendi have suddenly become invisible in the lineup – more so with the historically inconsistent Bradley who is in one of his extended slumps hitting just .216. In 2017 Bradley finished with a .249 average buoyed by a .353 June. No surprise as Red Sox Nation is aware of Bradley’s proclivity for long streaks that are barren with offensive lethargy. Benintendi is another story.
This past off-season Benintendi put on considerable muscle with the intent of advancing from the 20/20 club to the rarefied exclusivity of the 30/30 club. So far, the stolen base part seems to be on target with Benintendi going 5-5 in steals this season. But the home runs? Some significant catch-up is needed as the ball has left the yard just once. Apparently, the added muscle did not impact speed, but it did in the power department.
The good news with Benintendi is not his paltry .218 average, but his staggering .347 OBP. Benintendi has displayed plate patience with 16 walks in the infant season (through 4/25). At his current pace, Benintendi could have more walks than whiffs and that certainly is a plus. This is somewhat reflected in Benintendi’s 4.08 Pitches per At-Bat compared to 3.85 last season, but now for the mountain of bad news. Onward to the metrics!
Benintendi’s 51.1 GB% (Ground Ball Percent) is a sharp increase from 40.1 GB% of 2017. The same is present with just hitting the ball hard. Benintendi is at 21 Hard% (Hard Hit Percent) wherein 2017 it was 34.3 Hard%. Then there are the pull figures; 46.8 Pull% (Pull Percentage) compared to 34.3 Pull% in 2017. And then comes .262 BABIP versus .301 BABIP in 2017.
Seems that Benintendi is now transforming his hitting into more of a pull hitter and with less power. Will this change as the season moves forward? Will pitchers finally take a risk and pitch to Benintendi rather than tease him? Benintendi has decent order protection with Hanley Ramirez and J.D. Martinez and one would suspect the mound boys will take the plunge. If Benintendi heats up and corrects or makes adjustments then that lineup will really sparkle.
I am far more alarmed by Benintendi’s regression than what is happening to Bradley. Bradley will go on a tear just as he has every season and with Bradley that usually means a month of line drives. Benintendi is another story. Undoubtedly there is a transition issue as Benintendi attempts to add some more punch. Smart hitters adjust, and Benintendi is a smart hitter.
Neither player has any defensive issues. Bradley is among the very best in the game and although metrics do not show it Benintendi is no slouch. Bradley belongs in the lower parts of the batting order and with Benintendi’s OBP he’ll be quite suitable where he is as long as Benny continues to get on base.