The Boston Red Sox must be happy that they didn’t trade away Andrew Benintendi. His performance has been a bright spot in a rough patch for the team.
Sure, Benintendi could have been traded with a host of other assets for one starting pitcher, like Chris Sale, at the trade deadline. Then, there would still have been a gaping hole to fill in left field and no extra bat to help the club score runs for the short and long term. Keeping Benintendi was smart, as he has provided the Red Sox with stability in left field while also providing Red Sox Nation with a glimpse of what they may see from him for the next 10 years.
At only 22, Benintendi was recently called up from Double-A Portland to put an end to the platooning process of 2015 All-Star Brock Holt and outfielder Bryce Brentz. Day by day, Holt has looked more like the utility player the Red Sox need than the starting player whom other players could be. Especially when it comes to Holt’s .257 batting average in 60 games. At left field, Holt’s .268 has been a bit better in 164 at-bats; however, with it being past the midway point of the season, more injuries to more players means that the Red Sox need him more on defense, to pick up the slack. Brentz’s own .268 is less impressive after noticing his .293 on-base percentage and his .321 slugging percentage weighing him down.
In last night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting in the eight-spot, Benintendi went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, a stolen base, and a run scored. Here’s a video of Benintendi’s latest success:
If it wasn’t for some miscues from starting pitcher David Price and the other members of the Red Sox defense, Benintendi might have been the hero of the game. Instead, the Red Sox lost 8-5.
Not that any of his success is anything new for Benintendi. The lefty batter had his 5-foot-10 frame picked 7th overall in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Red Sox. After a great college career in Arkansas, amassing a number of awards, he’s had all minor-league and major-league eyes upon him ever since. Especially the brass in Boston’s executive offices. Benintendi’s rocketing rise through the ranks has shown the value of their judgement in drafting the young man.
The proof can be found in manager John Farrell‘s words, recorded by the Associated Press after last night’s game: “”He’s handled the environment probably about as good as you could […] From feeling comfortable, not getting out of his game, he’s got a beautiful swing. That’s evident by the way he approaches each at-bat.”
Nobody’s saying that the kid is a proven commodity just yet, but more experience will put him well on his way. Just ask Benintendi, himself: “It’s gone by real fast, but I’m trying to take things in and learn as much as possible […] Everyone here has made me feel extremely comfortable from the beginning. I think that the more games that I play, the more I feel comfortable.”
The next Ted Williams? Oh my! Please, don’t do that. They both played left field for the Red Sox, but so have many, many men who were humbled by playing that position for Boston. Let Benintendi play a few seasons before we even put him in the same sentence, let alone the same category, as Williams.
The young lad is still going to platoon with Brentz, for now. Yet, based on his first week in the majors, Benintendi can definitely handle himself against MLB pitching. The fact that his rookie status is still intact through 2016 should have Boston drooling over the possibilities for what he can do with some MLB seasons under his belt. Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweeted David Ortiz, the face of the Red Sox franchise, saying:
The last time Ortiz said something like that about his teammates, the world discovered All-Stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts. Food for thought. At least fans can still chew on it daily, instead of a recently-acquired starting pitcher’s performance every fifth day, even if he was an ace.