Rookie of the Year for 2017: Red Sox Andrew Benintendi

Aug 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) runs home to score a run against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi (40) runs home to score a run against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Red Sox have something special in Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada. My call is Benintendi will be Rookie of the Year for 2017.

The Red Sox are fortunate in that they currently have in their possession, two potential talented rookies. Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada both did a circular route around Pawtucket Triple-A farm club and joined Boston. Benintendi was quite impressive until injured and Moncada has just crashed into a curve ball inspired wall. Rookies sometimes fail.

Benintendi’s recent stay on the disabled list may allow him to still be qualified for the award in 2017 providing he falls short of the required 130 at-bats that would exclude him. Benintendi has 68 at-bats.

At last count 14 former Rookies of the Year (ROY) have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Several others are simply waiting their turn. The list is quite scattered with recognizable names from the past to the present and Boston is not absent.

The Red Sox have had six ROY players – Walt Dropo, Don Schwall, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Nomar Garciaparra and Dustin Pedroia. The only entry who could be considered a failure is Schwall, who never realized the great promise of his 1961 season. That has happened in the history of the ROY.

For one player – Herb Score – it was a tragedy on the baseball diamond that impacted his career. Score was a left-handed version of Bob Feller for the Indians. His first two seasons, Score led the American League in strikeouts and wild pitches as it was not advisable to get into a comfort zone with Score.

In 1957, Score was hit in the face with a line drive off the bat of Yankees Gil McDougald and was never the same. Score hung tough for a few seasons attempting to capture the magic but never did. Cleveland would be cursed again, but only over the sudden loss of talent – enter Joe Charboneau.

Charboneau captured his ROY title in 1980 by slashing .289/.358/.488 with 23 home runs and 87 RBI in 131 games. Joe had the entertainment value that included drinking a can of beer through his nose with a straw or dying his hair various colors. That was just the mild stuff.

Charboneau has a record for all ROY – fewest games played by any award winner. Injuries contributed, but loss of talent was the primary contributor along with significantly more diligent pitchers. Joe hung around the minors a few seasons and called it a career.

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The chances are Benintendi and Moncada will be significant contributors if either captures the title since historically that is what happens. Very few really have the fabled Sophomore Jinx. What I am more concerned about regarding our latest “Gold Dust Twins” is actual success in 2017 and beyond.

Benintendi appears far more polished than Moncada and that may be the result of both talent and the high expectations of a top-notch college program. Benintendi displays an approach to batting that seems well-developed for his professional experience, displays great fielding instincts, has an above average arm and demonstrates plate discipline – that is clear with his healthy OBP.

I have some doubts about Moncada circulating in my brain pan and those doubts are not pleasant. In the minors, Moncada went down far too often via the strikeout with a 30% K rate in Portland in Double-A. Not a good sign. At the major league level, he appears baffled by the mixture of pitches especially the curve. Moncada appears to need some more seasoning and maybe the Arizona Fall League will add that or a partial season at Pawtucket.

I fully expect Benintendi to be the starting left-fielder for Boston in 2017 and possibly the same for the rest of 2016 once he recovers from a sore knee. Benintendi did not seem mesmerized by his sudden advancement and has sent out a notice that he intends to stay and his private property is left-field. No trespassing allowed!

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If I was going to lay odds for a 2017 ROY I would have Benintendi well into the mix and possibly number one. I think he will be that good. For Moncada, I see another season or maybe half a season of job training in Pawtucket unless he suddenly figures it all out and makes the adjustments. Moncada could turn out like Mookie Betts and give a solid half season in 2017 or suddenly a strong spring training could catapult Moncada into the starting mix for 2017.

The best case for Red Sox fans is that both give the talent level project for them and do it in 2017.

Sources: Baseball-Reference/Baseball Almanac