To Buy or Not To Buy: What To Make Of The Struggles Of Andrew Benintendi…

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There were high hopes for Andrew Benintendi entering the season, with the thought that he could take the step from good player to great.  At the All-Star Break he’s fallen far short of that, hitting .274 with 7 HR, 38 RBI, 42 R and 9 SB.  Now we are all left to wonder if he can recover and take that step or will 2019 ultimately be a lost year.

The biggest red flag has been a regression in his approach, as both his SwStr% (11.4%, up from an 8.3% career mark) and O-Swing% (33.4%, up from a 29.4% career mark) have taken significant steps backward.  Opposing pitchers have changed the script a little bit, throwing him more breaking balls (27.96%) and fewer offspeed pitches (11.55%).  That doesn’t necessarily support the struggles, as it’s his Whiff% against Hard pitches that has really gone the wrong way.  That said, none of the numbers would represent concern:

  • Hard – 12.50%
  • Breaking – 12.50%
  • Offspeed – 13.58%

You would expect that would lead to better than his current 22.9% strikeout rate.  Maybe part of the problem is that he has taken more of a fly ball approach, perhaps in an effort to join into the home run barrage that baseball has seen.  He enters the break with a 46.2% fly ball rate, up from a career 38.7% mark, yet his HR/FB is just 6.5%.

The fly ball rate has been elevated all season long, but that hasn’t impacted his ability to hit the ball hard (35.9% Hard%) or willingness to use the entire field (28.3% Oppo%).  Even if he could just maintain last season’s 9.4% HR/FB, something he showed in May (11.4%), and the results would be significantly better.  Considering that he had 10 doubles in June (only 1 HR) and it’s easy to envision him figuring things out.

Maybe he’s not going to morph into a 30 HR threat, but he still should be able to be a 20/20 producer (maybe even 25/25).  Couple that with the approach and willingness to use the entire field, and even if his .346 BABIP takes a step back the increased power will help to maintain his average.  Playing in Boston, with a strong supporting cast around him, that still represents a player you want to buy.

While others may be willing to write him off, strike now before he starts to turn things around.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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