BOSTON -- Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi's well-rounded rookie season could have been award-winning in many other years. But in 2017, he was going against Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who put together a historic display of power (52 homers).It came as no surprise that Judge was announced as the
BOSTON -- Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi's well-rounded rookie season could have been award-winning in many other years. But in 2017, he was going against Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who put together a historic display of power (52 homers).
It came as no surprise that Judge was announced as the unanimous choice by the Baseball Writers' Association of America voters Monday as the American League Rookie of the Year Award winner. That doesn't take anything away from the impressive 2017 campaign by second-place finisher Benintendi. Baltimore's Trey Mancini finished third.
:: AL Rookie of the Year voting totals ::
Benintendi received 23 of the 30 second-place votes, and he also received six third-place votes.
"Well, he had a good year," said Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. "When you looked at Benintendi, if you would have said before the year he'd produce what he did -- 20 home runs and 90 RBIs and played solidly for us every day and swung the bat -- I think it was a very good job by a rookie.
"I think this year it gets a little overshadowed just because of Judge's year. Benintendi had a fine year for us. He was a really good player and looks like he could be a good player for a long time."
• All-time AL Rookie of the Year Award winners
Though the 5-foot-10 Benintendi can't measure up to Judge when it comes to size, he is equally adept at helping his team win games. The 23-year-old has swiftly emerged into one of the finest all-around players in the game.
Benintendi's second-place finish for Rookie of the Year comes just two seasons after he finished his college career with Arkansas. The Red Sox selected Benintendi with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 Draft, and they haven't had any regrets since.
In his first full season, Benintendi scored 84 runs and notched 26 doubles, 20 homers, 90 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He was the first rookie to have a 20-20 season since Michael Trout in 2012 and just the fourth to do so since 1999.
• Complete 2017 Awards coverage
Benintendi's batting average (.271) was lower than expected due to a pair of prolonged slumps, but he still had a solid .352 on-base percentage and a .424 slugging percentage.
Benintendi is as much known for his unflappable nature as his ability to get a big hit or make a dazzling play in the outfield. There were some occasions in 2017 when he put the Red Sox on his back.
Benintendi's breakout night of the season was July 4, when he created his own fireworks show by going 5-for-5 with two homers, six RBIs and four runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other rookie to get five or more hits, including two or more homers, and knock in six or more runs in a single game was Kevin Seitzer of the Royals in 1987.
When the Red Sox were trying to hang on in Game 4 of the AL Division Series, Benintendi greeted Astros ace Justin Verlander with a two-run homer that gave Boston the lead and sent Fenway Park into a frenzy. The Sox were eliminated that day, but it was another display of Benintendi coming up big when his team needed it most.
If the game was on the line, Benintendi often had something to say about it. He had the go-ahead hit four times in extra innings, serving as one of the catalysts for Boston's 15-3 finish in extras.
It was on defense where Benintendi made his most impressive improvements in 2017. Though he came up as a center fielder, Benintendi made a solid adjustment to left field and started to master the caroms off Fenway's Green Monster. Benintendi's 11 assists were the most among all AL left fielders. It was the most assists by a rookie Red Sox left fielder since Carl Yastrzemski in 1961.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.