In his most recent Big Board for The Athletic, former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden ranked Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi as the ninth-best left fielder in baseball.
Listed behind Washington’s Juan Soto, Houston’s Michael Brantley, Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows, San Diego’s Tommy Pham, Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez, Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds, and Oakland’s Mark Canha, Benintendi, per Bowden, “is the most disappointing left fielder in baseball.”
Leading with that is certainly an interesting way to make your case that Benintendi is one of the best left fielders in the game, but Bowden defends his ranking by saying “Now you’re probably wondering how [Benintendi] made this list. It’s simple. I’m betting on him and the fact that he’s only 25 years old and is primed for a breakout season.”
As we know, Benintendi, a former first-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, had a very underwhelming 2019 campaign in what was initially supposed to be a breakout year.
One of the reasons for Benintendi’s struggles, as Bowden notes, is that he bulked up a bit in the months following the 2018 World Series, which the Red Sox believe may have actually slowed down his swing and mechanics, resulting in an all-around down year in terms of offensive production.
Now though, after slimming back down and getting the chance to work with hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse during the offseason, the club believes that “they’ve been able to get [Benintendi] mechanically back to where he was in 2017 when he hit 20 homers, stole 20 bases and was on base over 35 percent of the time” en route to finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting.
After dealing with some adversity and tough injury luck in 2019, Benintendi inked a two-year, $10 million contract extension with Boston in February that essentially buys out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.
If baseball is played in 2020, the 25-year-old Cincinnati native will be counted on to be a surefire presence at the top of the Red Sox lineup. Even more so now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big Andrew Benintendi guy. Have been for quite awhile. But, from what I’ve seen online, he definitely has plenty of doubters, and what better way to silence those doubters than to put together your best season in the majors in 2020?