In every sport there is a certain player who is never quite described as a “franchise player” but is a constant workhorse for their team with the added extra of excellence in skill and technique. In football, Paul Scholes comes to mind or in basketball a Dennis Rodman does. However, in baseball, Andrew Benintendi has taken the moniker of the next undervalued superstar for the Red Sox.
Top Prospect Status
Born on 6th July, 1994, young Benintendi grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Madeira High School. The young stud had an incredible senior year which gained immense attention. He was awarded the Ohio Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year, along with the ABCA/RAWLINGS National High School POTY. This solid year contributed to his high school record setting 199 career runs. The Reds elected to draft him in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB Draft, however he did not sign.
From there, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas, where he pulled on the famous Razorbacks jersey. In 2015, young Andrew had a breakout year. His .380 batting average, 19 Homers, .715 slugging percentage and 47 walks led the Southeastern Conference. These outrageous stats gained him the Player Of The Year Award in the SEC. In addition, he acquired the Baseball America College Player Of The Year Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur baseball player in college. Conclusively, he was touted as one of the top prospects in the 2015 Draft.
Destined for Fenway
Andrew Benintendi was selected 7th overall in the 2015 Draft. He then impressed in the class A Affiliate, the Lowell Spinners. Next, he was promoted to Double A baseball.
He produced further quality performances, which gained him promotion to the Red Sox roster just 421 days after he was drafted in 2015, an impressive feat. In 2017, Andrew really started to gain attraction from the baseball world.
He had 573 At-Bats, posting 155 Hits and smashing 20 Home Runs. His incredible breakout year earned him second in the Rookie Of The Year Award, only to be eclipsed by that of one, Aaron Judge, who finished first unanimously. A point I will elude to further in the article.
Furthermore, it looks fairly conclusive to say that he will further improve on his breakout 2017 seasons performances. On the other hand, the burning question continues to remain. Can Benintendi leave the shadow of his closest rival?
Stuck in the shadows
As aforementioned, in last years race to the AL ROTY Awards, Aaron Judge received all 30 of the votes available, almost downplaying the incredible year Benintendi had. Further rubbing salt into the wounds, Judge finished second in the AL MVP voting, unfortunately, Andrew didn’t even place on the ballot. Therefore, at the end of the season it was quite clear that Judge was the far superior of the two. However, this season has thrown a curveball that many failed to predict.
Firstly, it’s evident that Judge is winning the home run race. He has nailed 20 so far this season, whereas, Andrew has only hit 13. Does that mean the race is over before it has began? Far from it.
He has 51 RBI, Judge with 52. Moreover, Andrew has scored three more runs than his counterpart and has stolen 13 bases from 14 attempts, bashing Judge’s total of 4 from 6. Another aspect of this underestimated talent is his role in the roster. Despite both ball players placing as the “no.2”, Andrew gets less walks because of the fact that he bats after the world class Mookie Betts and before the leading candidate for the AL MVP Award J.D. Martinez who has had an exquisite year so far. Already totalling 25 home runs, which leads the league.
Therefore, it is clear that the Andrew vs Aaron debate is not a foregone conclusion. In essence, the best way to sum up the rivalry as of yet is this: Judge has won the battle, but the war is yet to be won.