Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Left fielder Andrew Benintendi
By Geoff Guerin
Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi had a solid 2018. Here’s how his performance stacked up in the regular season and postseason.
While he may have been overshadowed by Mookie Betts‘ MVP-caliber season, Andrew Benintendi quietly pieced together a very good 2018 campaign. In just his second full season with the Boston Red Sox, Benintendi was one of the best two-way outfielders in the American League.
With Dustin Pedroia out for nearly all of the 2018 season, it was Benintendi who slid into the second spot in the order, becoming a valuable component at the top of an explosive Red Sox offense. He finished the regular season with a .290 average, an .830 OPS, 16 home runs, and 87 RBIs. His 6 triples also led the team.
Although his home run and RBI totals were slightly lower than in 2017 (20 and 90), he hit 15 more doubles and scored 19 more runs in 2018. He also crossed the 20-stolen base mark for the second year in a row, swiping 21 of 24 bases. Perhaps his biggest moment of the regular season came on August 5th, when his walk-off single sealed a four-game sweep of the Yankees.
Not only did he produce offensively, Benintendi was also one of the best defensive outfielders in the American League. He received his first Gold Glove nomination in 2018, joining Alex Gordon and Brett Gardner as the three left field finalists in the American League. Benintendi’s 11 assists were tied for the most by a left fielder in Major League Baseball.
What may be my favorite stat from Benintendi in 2018 though is his number of games played, 148. This ranked second on the Red Sox behind J.D. Martinez who, of course, was the designated hitter and played just 65 games in the field. With 151 games played in 2017, Benintendi has been healthy over the last two seasons and has shown he can handle an extended workload.
Benintendi was one of the most consistent hitters for the Red Sox during the 2018 postseason. His .268 average ranked third on the team, and he was either first or tied for first in stolen bases (2), runs (15), hits (15), and doubles (4).
Benintendi’s signature moment came in the ninth inning of ALCS Game 4, with the Red Sox leading the Astros 8-6. With two outs, Alex Bregman ripped a sinking line drive to left field. On a do-or-die attempt, Benintendi made an incredible diving catch to rob Bregman of what might have been a game-winning extra base hit. The catch gave the Red Sox a comfortable 3-1 series lead.
He saved his best for last in the World Series though. In addition to hitting .333, Benintendi made another great catch in Game 2 and beat out an infield hit in Game 4 that led to Steve Pearce‘s three-run double.
In only his second full season, Benintendi was everything the Red Sox needed him to be. He was a great table setter for J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts, while also providing solid protection for Betts in the leadoff spot. His defense improved from last year, and he’s now become another model of consistency in that lineup.
While his regular season stats weren’t eye-popping by any means, Benintendi rose to the occasion in the postseason and provided some stability at the top of the order, especially in the first two rounds. His catch in the ALCS will live in Boston sports lore forever.
Looking ahead to 2019
Whether or not Pedroia is fully healthy for the 2019 season (which I don’t think he will be), Benintendi seems to have found a home in that second spot. His approach and skill set work well between Betts and the combination of Martinez and Bogaerts.
While it’s not certain that he’ll win the Gold Glove this year, we can expect a continuation of his upgraded defensive ability in 2019. It’s not a bad situation at all when the “worst” defensive outfielder of the trio still has Gold Glove ability.
The best part about Benintendi is that he’s under control through 2022. Barring a surprise trade, he won’t be going anywhere for a while.