Red Sox: Will Andrew Benintendi be the Boston Don Mattingly?

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Andrew Benintendi
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Andrew Benintendi /

The Boston Red Sox Andrew Benintendi may not be the American League Rookie of the Year, but he may eventually be the Boston version of Yankee great Don Mattingly.

Boston Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi is not the Rookie of the Year in the American League, but he may be on a baseball track that will have his career performance surpass those of Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. That is all speculative and my Tarot Cards and crystal ball give me no real insight.

I have followed baseball since the early 1950’s and when a player comes into my major league radar I like to compare them to players I have seen before. With Benintendi, the comparison is often to Fred Lynn. Both are left-handed hitters, outfielders and with just, enough power to think 40+ doubles and 25+ home runs a year.

I have another comparison in mind and that is to one of the great hitters of the 1980’s – Don Mattingly.

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Mattingly was not an outfielder, but an accomplished first baseman who won nine Gold Gloves, a Most Valuable Player Award, a batting title and finished his career with a lifetime .307 average. Mattingly, a left-handed thrower, even played a bit at second and third base – he was that skilled with his glove.

Mattingly also served as team captain for the New York Yankees and had his number 23 retired despite not being on a World Series championship team. Mattingly later served as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and is now the manager of the Miami Marlins.

The Mattingly I remember was an extra-base machine, leading the American League three times in doubles and three times exceeding 30+ home runs in a season. Mattingly could hit lefties – .296 career and hit with runners in scoring position – .314. Plate patience? Mattingly had more walks (588) than strikeouts (444) in his career.

Benintendi may have to ramp it up in 2018 to start to match Mattingly, but the early going is impressive and most promising. Benintendi hit 20 home runs, had 90 RBI and posted a .271 batting average in his rookie year.  Where he differs from Mattingly is speed. Mattingly had 19 steals for his career and Benintendi already topped that with 20. Benintendi also whiffed 120 times but also walked 70 times. Not bad considering the new dynamics of baseball.

Mattingly is on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame and may or may not be voted in. To even be still considered is an honor and an example of the numbers Mattingly put on the board and his statesmanship as a player.

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Benintendi is getting on that track regarding at least the numbers portion, but statesmanship takes a bit of years under the baseball belt. For Benintendi his swing is picturesque, and his average and power will increase – a not so bold prediction. I expect to see increased average, extra-base power, and improved glovework.