The Boston Red Sox are off to a great 4-1 start in the 2018 season, but one player in particular still seems to be stuck in spring training.
Andrew Benintendi, the fan favorite in left field, has been terrible to start the year. He’s been up to bat in 4 of the 5 games so far this season after being given a day off on Sunday. While the day off may have been scheduled to get J.D. Martinez in the field and to give Mitch Moreland a chance to play, it also could have been because Benintendi is just not hitting.
In his 18 plate appearances this season, Andrew Benintendi has just 1 hit and 3 walks. His .067 batting average is well below where he should be, and he’s lucky players like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Rafael Devers are picking up the slack. If those guys weren’t putting runs on the board, this poor start from Benintendi would be much more visible, as his first hit finally came Monday.
Maybe the hit against the Marlins will get Benintendi going, but he will really have to pick up the pace to build his average back up to where it should be. He’s struck out just twice, so he’s making contact, but he just needs to get the ball down and find the openings in the defense. Last season, Benintendi was a tremendous rookie with a .271 average and 20 home runs. May thought he could improve that average in 2018 but so far he just hasn’t been any good.
Benintendi did have a solid spring, so it’s a bit surprising that he’s had such a poor start to the regular season. He hit .391 in 46 at-bats in the spring, with 4 home runs and 11 RBI. That should provide some hope that Benintendi can turn things around in 2018, but fans and coaches have to be hoping that happens quickly.
Benintendi hasn’t lost his spot in the lineup yet as some streakiness at the plate is to be expected, but the turnaround needs to come either in Boston’s finale in Miami or in their Home Opener series against the Rays that begins Thursday. He’s going to be given every opportunity to improve and excel, but at some point, the possibility of playing J.D. in left will become more and more intriguing. The Red Sox could have Hanley Ramirez DH as they insert Mitch Moreland into the lineup at first base.
It’s tough to think about, but if Benintendi doesn’t start to hit he may find himself on the bench for quite a few games later this month.