The Boston Red Sox have another hitting issue besides Jackie Bradley and the catchers. Just what is happening with Andrew Benintendi?
Where has Andrew Benintendi gone? Let me rephrase that since I see Benintendi batting second – where has his bat gone? Where has his power gone? After 33 games Benintendi is hitting a paltry .246 with two long balls and 18 RBI. In 2017 after 32 games Benintendi was hitting .339 with five home runs and 22 RBI.
In 2017 Benintendi eventually slumped in May hitting just .204. Eventually, he finished the season with membership in the 20/20 Club with much promise for 2018. Benintendi added some muscle, maintain his speed, and balls were supposed to be flying out in batches with the target now being the 30/30 Club.
Looking at FanGraphs the difference is pulling the ball. In 2017 Benintendi spread the ball around with a pull figure of 34.2%. This season that figure has jumped to 43.4%. Tracking also includes another small nugget that may give a perspective on the Benintendi of 2018. Just how hard a ball is hit. In 2017 Benintendi had a 34.3% hard contact and that has now deteriorated to 20.2%.
The other sundry metrics show no appreciable change – maybe a few do, but my eyes started to gloss over and in a few more pages I would have been tempted to chew my leg off. But any Red Sox fan who diligently observes our players know that Benintendi is just not hammering the ball nor is he spreading the ball around the field.
There is always good news to help flush down the sour taste of the bad news. One is the misery of others such as Jackie Bradley and our far from lethal catchers. A second is Benintendi’s OBP that is now .331. That figure has recently taken a drop as pitchers would rather not issue a walk to Benintendi with the ultra-hot hitting J.D. Martinez waiting to spring a few RBI. And lastly, it is still a young season.
Benintendi has certainly surprised me. I thought this would be a banner season for the soon to be 24-year-old. A .300 average with attendant power was a certainty. That no longer seems feasible but hitting resurrections do happen. So – just what to do?
Batting second would have been gone a few weeks ago, but with the absence of Dustin Pedroia that locks Benintendi in for the rest of May. Lowering Benintendi in the order also places him into the realm of the lost – Bradley and pick any catcher. A pitcher’s dream would be to have all three together. An enjoyable rest within the game structure before Mookie Betts parties on curves, fastball, sliders and just about anything else the devilish minds of the hurlers can attempt. Good luck with that.
If Benintendi was 29-years-old I would be tempted to just cut the cord and look elsewhere – as I would do with Bradley. But Benintendi has a sweet swing – a very sweet swing. He does, however, appear to be somewhat on cruise control. Is that just me or is Benintendi lacking fire in the belly?