'Comfortable' Benintendi ripening into star

April 25th, 2019

As part of Young Stars Week, MLB is celebrating one of the game’s most dynamic emerging talents each day from April 22-26. Up next is 24-year-old Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

To , it seems like he’s been doing this for a while now.

“I feel a little older than I think I am in baseball years,” Benintendi said, pausing for an estimation. “27, 28.”

Time flies for the young outfielder, who already is in his third full season with the Red Sox. Benintendi made his Major League debut on Aug. 2, 2016, just a year after being chosen seventh overall in the 2015 Draft.

Benintendi’s success has been fast-tracked in comparison to others his age. He is quick to credit this to an early callup by the Red Sox and having good teammates around him. He followed the advice he received to simply stick with his game and “go play,” rather than making any major changes. That mindset worked.

Benintendi ranks with Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Mike Trout as the only players to record 40-plus steals (41), 100-plus extra base hits (110) and more than 150 RBIs (177) over the past two season. Benintendi became one of just six Red Sox players to reach at least 100 plate appearances while hitting better than .270 with an on-base percentage higher than .350 over each of his first three Major League seasons. The others to reach this rare feat? Wade Boggs, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Patsy Dougherty.

Defensively, Benintendi has proven he can be reliable in both center and left field. The Associated Press named his game-ending diving catch in left with the bases loaded in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series as the Play of the Year for all sports.

When it came time to deliver on the biggest of stages, Benintendi stepped up last postseason. He became the only Major League player to score more than three runs and connect for at least four hits in his first World Series game. 

Benintendi thrives on the expectations of playing in such a championship-centric city like Boston. He enjoys the cheers when he is doing well, and even appreciates the honesty of the fans when he isn’t. The standards of winning were set high from the moment he arrived to the Majors.

“They expect nothing less,” Benintendi said of Red Sox fans. “And so do we.”

Benintendi doesn't turn 25 years old until July 6. For everything he has accomplished, he is just scratching the surface of the player he hopes to be. His long-term to-do list includes increasing his batting average, hitting for power, connecting for more extra-base hits and improving overall consistency. There's no settling for him this early in his career. 

“I’m still learning,” Benintendi said. “It’s always a cat-and-mouse game with the pitchers. I think I’m pretty comfortable here. For me, I think that I still haven’t reached what I want to do or what I can do.”