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Benintendi's diverse skill set makes him a hit

Red Sox left fielder a finalist for AL Rookie of Year Award
MLB.com

BOSTON -- Andrew Benintendi will probably never beat Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby. But the outfielder's diverse skill set makes him a worthy finalist along with Judge and Baltimore's Trey Mancini for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, which will be announced Monday.

If you are looking for someone who checks off all the boxes of a winning player, Benintendi is your guy.

BOSTON -- Andrew Benintendi will probably never beat Aaron Judge in the Home Run Derby. But the outfielder's diverse skill set makes him a worthy finalist along with Judge and Baltimore's Trey Mancini for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, which will be announced Monday.

If you are looking for someone who checks off all the boxes of a winning player, Benintendi is your guy.

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The 5-foot-9, 180-pound left-handed hitter from Madeira, Ohio, has wasted no time making his presence felt for the Red Sox. In fact, it feels almost like he had two rookie seasons.

Benintendi was called up to the Major Leagues in August 2016, just 13 months after being drafted. He provided instant results in a pennant race but maintained his rookie eligibility for '17 because of a knee injury that limited him to 105 at-bats.

Complete 2017 Awards coverage

In his first full season, Benintendi scored 84 runs, had 26 doubles, 20 homers, 90 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. His 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.

Video: BOS@KC: Statcast™ measures Benintendi's 454-foot HR

Perhaps it's been Benintendi's even-keeled demeanor that has allowed him to thrive at the beginning of his career.

"You get here and you're going to go through struggles and things like that, and there are other times you're going to play well," said Benintendi. "You've just got to stay even-keeled through it all. Every time I go up to the plate, I think I'm going to get a hit. That confidence never leaves. It's that mindset, I think, that will keep you from going in those big slumps."

There were games when Benintendi didn't just help the Red Sox win, but carried them.

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 Elias, 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.

Video: BOS@TEX: Benintendi shines on five-hit day and catch

And who could forget the show Benintendi put on at Yankee Stadium in August? With his family in town for his grandfather's birthday celebration, he produced three homers and eight RBIs over a two-day span.

When the Red Sox were trying to stay alive 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.

Video: HOU@BOS Gm4: Benintendi crushes a two-run homer

The fact that Benintendi batted second, third, fourth and fifth for Boston in 2017 shows the type of ability he's displayed in a short amount of time.

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.

Video: BOS@CIN: Benintendi lays out to make a diving grab

Playing alongside two-time Gold Glove Award winner Mookie Betts and the spectacular Jackie Bradley Jr. certainly didn't hurt Benintendi's development on defense.

"It definitely pushes me, watching those guys," said Benintendi. "Defense, growing up, was really kind of secondary behind hitting. Up here it's not. Defense can win games and it did this season, and it's probably going to win us some more down the road."

And down the road, it wouldn't be surprising to see Benintendi in the conversation for many other awards.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi