Will the Red Sox have a Benintendi bounce at Fenway?

Aug 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) loses his balance fielding a ball off the green monster prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) loses his balance fielding a ball off the green monster prior to a game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Will the Red Sox Andrew Benintendi enjoy the home cooking at Fenway Park?

The Red Sox Andrew Benintendi era has begun as the entire baseball universe or at least the most relevant – Red Sox Nation – is certainly aware. My assumption is a full-length feature film is in production for a late fall release – possibly to coincide with Benintendi’s World Series (hopefully) heroics.

Benintenti’s timetable was certainly on the rush as he sprinted through the Red Sox minor league organizational stops and even managed to accomplish a unique bypass of the top of the line farm club in Pawtucket. No scenic tours of Central Falls, Providence or Pawtucket itself. There will be no pre-game meals at the Blue Grotto restaurant on Federal Hill for Mr. Benintendi – maybe never?

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The home welcoming for Benintendi was a spectacular success with all the expected rave reviews – I will pass on the one low point being a failed stolen base attempt. The debut against the shell of what was once the New York Yankees had all the ingredients of what makes legends with three hits, including one that was a double after a home run was deducted upon review.

Benintendi is being placed in left field and so far this season that has been a place where bad things seem to happen. Blake Swihart finished off his 2016 season with a futile attempt to move the barrier down the left field line. Chris Young fell victim to an extended hamstring injury and Brock Holt managed to get his bell rung – therefore missing weeks of actions. Fate has placed a target on those in left field this season. I am sure Bryce Brentz must have access to some spiritual charms to prevent bad omens.

Benintendi knew his day was coming when the Red Sox decided to remove him from center field and toss him to left field – a sure sign of what his future held. Benintendi is an excellent defensive player by all accounts, but Jackie Bradley is simply better with a far stronger arm. So the move was one of necessity.

The game against the Yankees – formerly known as “The Bronx Bombers” – was, to me sitting and observing, a portent of things to come as Benintendi simply showed that Fenway Park just may be a delight for the left-hand hitting Benintendi. One single went to left on a hard-line drive and the faux home run to left center. The third hit was a shot to the right of the first baseman Mark Teixeira. Impressive stroke.

So will he be a Fenway hitting machine?

The Red Sox have several minor league parks that resemble Fenway just like their park does for spring training. Not exact duplicates, but with the most pronounced feature – a left field wall – part of the field. Players get use to the dimensions and have a comfort zone created by being exposed to what they will see when they arrive in “The Show” and I decided to check it out since Benintendi has played on those very fields.

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I limited my minor league visit to Benintendi’s last stop which was Hadlock Field – home of the Portland Sea dogs – in the Eastern League and the owner of the “Maine Monster” in left field. A quick review is the height is the same at 37’ and the distance a shade longer at 315’ versus 310’ at Fenway Park. The length is 160’ to the 240’ in Boston. The rest of the field is different, but that wall gives an inviting target. Hadlock is generally considered a hitter’s park – if the weather is cooperating.

The surprise.

In 142 home at-bats Benintendi slashed .268/.342/.437 with 10 doubles, four triples, and two home runs. The RBI total was 24 and his steals were just two in seven attempts. On the road, a different picture emerges with a slash of .337/.381/632 in 95 at-bats that included eight doubles, a triple, six home runs and 20 RBI. Even the steals were impressive with six in eight attempts. Check those road base distances, folks!

On the road, Benintendi also walked (8) more than he struck out (7) and at home, it was the opposite with 16 BB and 23 K.

I would have expected just the opposite, but in 2016 at Portland, Benintendi was an away hitter and as the season progressed so did his early slump at Double-A also disappeared. I will enjoy watching the last fifty or so games this season and see just how Benintendi matches up on the road and at home. Right now with such an incredibly small sample he appears to be the type of hitter that parks will make little impact on his hitting.

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The prediction that I will certainly make is that Benintendi is just going to be the type of player where the field will have little impact on his batting prowess and that what has happened in Portland is just a statistical quirk or anomaly.

This kid appears to be the real deal and maybe Chicago will offer up Chris Sale in a one for one transaction – a wooden bat for a rubber arm.

Statistics via Sox Prospects