Can Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi follow the footsteps of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts with a breakout season in 2020?
Coming off a somewhat disappointing 2019 MLB season, Boston Red Sox young outfielder Andrew Benintendi is entering the 2020 season with a new approach, which includes slimming down and getting back to the swing at the plate that made him a top prospect in the organization.
After bulking up prior to the last two seasons to gain more power at the plate, the young leftfielder has trended away from what made him so good during his first full rookie season. That being his on-base percentage.
In 2019, Andrew Benintendi saw that on-base percentage drop from .366 in 2018 to .343, which was more of a result on his approach at the plate and trying to overcome that yearly slump he has made a habit of the last three seasons.
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The mark of a good major league hitter is the ability to overcome those slumps. Benintendi has found a way to do that at points during the season, but the mental obstacles due to the pressure to succeed had led to slow starts, slumps that has impacted his physical ability at the plate, which according to hitting coach Tim Hyers, is the hardest for a young player to overcome, especially on a team as competitive as the Boston Red Sox.
"“The mind can get in the way when you’re trying to do so well,” Hyers said, via Masslive.com. “Especially for a team that’s really competitive and you’ve got some really good guys in the lineup and you want to do your part. And I think that’s when he got off to a bad start and things started to compound.”"
In visiting Benintendi in St. Louis this offseason, the Red Sox hitting coach was both encouraged and optimistic about the energy of a young slugger who looks “ready to go”. Appearing more slimmed down, Andrew Benintendi appears poised to return back to his college swing, an adjustment that worked towards the middle of the season.
"“In the middle of the season, things started to wear on him,” Hyers continued. “And he went back from square one. He’s gotten back into his college swing and it’s worked out really well for him. I’m really encouraged.”"
That adjustment worked well for Andrew Benintendi as he was an offensive force from June through the end of August hitting .302 during that time and very much looking like the player he was when he came in second to Aaron Judge for 2017 AL Rookie of the Year.
In fact, in that year, it took a monster offensive performance by Judge to beat out Benintendi. While he will never match that kind of power, the Boston Red Sox young outfielder has the potential of being one of the best all-around players in the game.
Now that he’s in better shape and has less pressure on him, perhaps 2020 will be his year.
A Boston Red Sox team in the midst of a sign-stealing investigation and dealing with the Mookie Betts contract situation will certainly welcome a breakout season from another of their young players.