Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi explains adjustments he made to his swing that helped produce an impressive three-hit performance.
You may have noticed that Andrew Benintendi‘s swing looked a bit different when he stepped to the plate in Tampa Bay on Monday. He made some adjustments that led to a three-hit performance, fueling the Boston Red Sox to a desperately needed win over the Rays.
Benintendi’s night began by dropping a base hit in front of the right fielder. It wouldn’t lead to any damage on the scoreboard but it was an encouraging sign from a hitter snapping a 0-for-9 slump over his previous three games.
One inning later, Benintendi drilled a hanging breaking ball 394 feet for his eighth home run of the season. He sliced an opposite-field double down the left-field line in the fifth to cap his three-hit day.
The results weren’t the only difference from the slumping Benintendi. His approach at the plate showed a noticeable change as well. Benintendi stood with more of a closed stance and eliminated the leg kick in his swing. He told WEEI’s Rob Bradford after the game that this adjustment was made to give him more time to see the ball.
"“I feel like the last 1 1/2, two years I’ve had a decent size leg kick and when I’m clicking and I feel good that’s working but obviously right now it’s not so I’m trying to simplify it,” explained Benintendi. “These guys throw so hard now they produce all the power so you just have to touch it.”"
The swing is reminiscent of the one Benintendi used in college when he was a Golden Spikes Award winner with the University of Arkansas. Keeping his stance tighter without the leg kick allows for a shorter swing path. The less time it takes for the bat to travel through the zone, the more time he has to see the ball and identify where it’s going. Every moment counts when making a split-second decision.
Benintendi also makes a point of mentioning that pitchers are throwing harder than ever. More velocity means hitters have less time to catch up with a fastball. It also means that velocity is generating plenty of power when the ball makes contact with the bat. The leg kick to generate more power isn’t quite as necessary and shorting up his swing improves his chances of making contact.
You can see the altered stance at the plate in all three of Benintendi’s hits against the Rays.
Compare that to this massive home run swing from last year. Benintendi raises his front leg as the pitch is released, generating a more powerful swing but with less time to execute. He’s able to connect on this 92 mph fastball but that swing might have trouble catching up to pitches with upper-90’s heat.
The change may not be permanent. After all, Benintendi found plenty of success with that leg kick last year when he hit .290 with a .830 OPS. This season has been frustrating for Benintendi so he had to try something to pull himself out of this funk. The early returns of his adjustments are promising so we should expect him to use his revamped stance as long as he’s finding success with it.
"“Obviously, I’m going to stick with the college swing until it stops working and then I’ll do something else,” said Benintendi."
Baseball is a game of adjustments. Benintendi made one that seems to be working, at least for now. If this revamped stance continues to produce results, Benintendi should finish strong and perhaps salvage a season that has been below expectations.