Red Sox: Hanley Ramirez’s bold Andrew Benintendi prediction

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 16: Hanley Ramirez
FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 16: Hanley Ramirez /

The Boston Red Sox’ first baseman had an interesting prediction for the 2018 season.

Hanley Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox is often the center of a joke or laugh in the clubhouse. However, he made a prediction that he wants to be taken seriously with.

The charismatic first baseman/designated hitter’s claim isn’t about how well the team will do, nor about how well he’ll hit this season. This time, he told reporters at spring training that Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi would win the American League MVP this season.

Could Benintendi win the MVP? From afar, the likely candidates would be Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Altuve and Mike Trout. Sure, Red Sox players like Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez and Chris Sale are possibilities too. But young Benintendi is only entering his second full season as a member of the Red Sox, and winning the AL MVP seems daunting.

As daunting as Benintendi winning the MVP may sound, one could argue he at least belongs in the discussion. The young outfielder is coming off a fine rookie season where he hit 20 home runs, drove in 90 runs and hit .271 while finishing second to Aaron Judge in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Not too shabby for an outfielder who claims he’s capable of more after having an up-and-down year.

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How is Benintendi looking this year? Up to this point, the lefty is hitting .471 (8-for-17) with a pair of home runs and four runs batted in for the Red Sox in seven games. While it’s important to remember these stats only count against spring training pitchers, the muscular Benintendi has already seen a difference in his power.

Should Benintendi find more consistency this season, there’s no reason he can’t hit 30-plus HR and hit for a .300-plus average. If he were to put these type of numbers up, Boston’s left fielder will find himself in the MVP discussion.

Additionally, “Benny Biceps” won’t be producing without help. Manager Alex Cora has said Benintendi will be the No. 2 hitter behind the dangerous Mookie Betts, and in front power hitters J.D. Martinez and Hanley Ramirez. Opposing pitchers will have no choice but to pitch to Benintendi, and in a stacked lineup, the left fielder will have plenty of opportunities this season to make them pay.

Even if Benintendi falls short in the MVP race, the Red Sox already have shown a different vibe than last year. Ramirez telling the media that his young teammate will win the MVP is a positive sign that the clubhouse is unified. It’s certainly an improvement from the beanball affair with the Orioles, where Pedroia threw his team under the bus, but later claimed he was the leader.

Next: Red Sox player projections: Hitters

Players are looking to have each other’s back in 2018 and change the reputation of the clubhouse. The team wants to win while having fun doing so — something they couldn’t achieve much of under former manager John Farrell.