Red Sox: 2020 will be Andrew Benintendi’s chance to shine in the spotlight
The Boston Red Sox outfield may see some major departures in the near future giving Andrew Benintendi his best chance to shine this upcoming season.
As I look out the window and see the snowfall and the temperature dip into the single digits, I can’t help but think about next season. It’s been a relatively quiet offseason so far and the rumor mill is working overtime but the Red Sox have been hesitant to make any major moves. One man that’s been in the whispers of the baseball trade market has been Andrew Benintendi.
The lefty hasn’t been spoken about as a true trade piece but more of an addition to one of the Boston contracts that are impossible to move. With both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts set to hit the free-agent market after next season, Benny is poised to be the sole remainder of the best outfield in baseball.
I don’t want to flat out say that JBJ and Mookie won’t be back, but it’s hard to see a world where both are wearing Red Sox uniforms in 2021. So, this leaves Benintendi as the big man on campus as far as the outfield is concerned. With his comrades on the way out, this will be his best chance to show the Boston front office why they shouldn’t offer him up, no matter who’s calling.
Hell, we’re just hours removed from his catch from Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS being voted as the top defensive play of the decade by Ian Browne of MLB.com. The Red Sox were clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and Alex Bregman at the plate. The third baseman shot a laser to leftfield but Benny timed it perfectly and caught the ball, giving Boston a commanding 3-1 lead.
Playing defense has never been the issue when it comes to Benintendi, despite his severe lack of Gold Glove Awards. He patrols the Green Monster damn near better than anyone ever has, it’s almost as if he has an instinct for where the ball is going to hit and bounce.
His bat was colder than a New England winter this past season and that’s something that must change in 2020. With the possibility of his battery mates heading elsewhere, it’ll be up to him to carry the outfield both defensively and offensively. Benny held himself more than accountable for his poor numbers in 2019, never placing the blame anywhere else but on himself.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s spending much of the offseason watching game film and working in the batting cage to regain his timing. His work ethic has never been in question and I think he’ll do whatever he has to in order to keep that belief rock solid for next year.
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During the 2018 campaign, Red Sox Nation saw the southpaw strive as the second man in the lineup. Betts would do his job and get on base which would allow Benny to come in get those much-beloved RBI. As we kicked off 2019 though, Alex Cora would swap the two outfielders in the lineup and the repercussions were felt all season long. Both would get off to incredibly slow starts and only Mookie would recover.
With his talent level and work ethic, it feels like 2020 could be a big year for Benny as he looks to prove he’s still an asset to the Red Sox. If anything is going to motivate someone to take their game to the next level, I’d think a poor season followed by trade rumors would do it.
He’s projected to see an uptick in his numbers for next season but if he can regain his old spot in the lineup, those projections may get blown out of the water. When he’s on top of his game he can be one of the hardest outs there is. It’s as if he fills out his energy bar and goes into a completely different mode, absolutely untouchable.
Andrew Benintendi is a premier talent and the future of the Red Sox. As the pieces around him begin to change his opportunities to become a leader for this team will grow. This upcoming season will be important for his future as another poor performance could add more fuel to the trade fire. If I had to put my money on anything for 2020 though, it’d be Benny finding his form and striving once again.