Red Sox not ready to move Andrew Benintendi in the lineup

Aug 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) hits an RBI double against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 13, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) hits an RBI double against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox are content with leaving Andrew Benintendi at the bottom of the order, despite a scorching start to his career.

The No. 9 spot is typically where teams hide their most offensively challenged bats, but a lineup as deep as the one the Boston Red Sox have includes no weak links.

The Red Sox lead the majors with a .289 batting average out of the nine hole this season, compared to the American League average of .233 from that spot. Production from the bottom of the order hasn’t been much of a problem for Boston this season, but the gap between them and other teams is even more glaring now that they have a No. 9 hitter performing better than the middle of the order bats on most other teams.

The start to Andrew Benintendi‘s career couldn’t be going much better. Granted it’s only an 11 game sample so far, but his .394 average is currently leading the team and he’s third with a .929 OPS.

Hitters performing anywhere near this level would seem to stand a solid chance of being rewarded with a move up in the lineup, but manager John Farrell is content with leaving the young outfield phenom at the bottom, at least for now.

"“I’m in no hurry to,” Farrell answered when asked about moving Benintendi in the lineup, per’s Conor Ryan. “We feel good about our entire lineup and we’ve got him in the nine hole.”"

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Farrell also praised Benintendi for his “even keel” mentality that has allowed him to transition seamlessly to the big league level. Nothing seems to faze this kid and he has a calm approach to the game that is uncanny for a young player with limited experience. Still, even if he isn’t acting like it, we have to remember that this is a 22-year old getting his first taste in the majors. Moving him up in the lineup already puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on the rookie.

If Benintendi keeps hitting then he may prove worthy of moving up in the lineup, but good luck finding someone in this Red Sox lineup that deserves to be bumped down. Sandy Leon, who has typically been hitting 8th ahead of Benintendi, has been one of the team’s best hitters in the second half of the season. Travis Shaw has cooled off after a strong start to the season, but still carries a solid .272 average and .803 OPS against right-handed pitching.

"“They’re talented hitters and we’re going to need everybody, so I’m not just going to adjust guys for the sake of seeing what it looks like, explained Farrell.”"

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When the Red Sox have their regular starting lineup available there are no weak spots that Benintendi could swap with. A case could be made to move Benintendi up during games where regular starters are being rested, moving him a spot or two ahead of the likes of Aaron Hill, Brock Holt or Bryan Holaday. That could happen, but it may benefit Benintendi more to get comfortable in his role at the bottom of the order rather than shuffle him around constantly based on who else happens to be in the lineup that day.

Farrell also pointed out that Benintendi has given the team a boost at the bottom of the order, so there are advantages to keeping him there. He has the speed to be a threat on the base paths, which is an asset the Red Sox can exploit ahead of the bats at the top of the order. After the first trip through the lineup, Benintendi can be utilized almost like a lead-off hitter. The Red Sox sacrificed the speed advantage most teams crave at the top of the order when they moved Mookie Betts to the middle of the lineup. Hitting Benintendi ninth rectifies that without actually shuffling the hitters at the top of the order.

Benintendi has more than lived up to they hype so far. He projects as a future star that will eventually hit much higher in the order, but there is no rush to get him there. Keeping him in the No. 9 spot is not a reflection on him as much as it is of the depth of this Red Sox lineup.

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That’s what makes this offense so dangerous – they can hurt you with anyone in their lineup. Benintendi will continue to be a significant part of that no matter where he ends up in the order.