fb-pixel Skip to main content
ALEX SPEIER

As second half begins, Andrew Benintendi struggles to hit his stride

Andrew Benintendi reacted to striking out in the fourth inning of Saturday night’s game against the Dodgers.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Chris Sale isn’t the only Red Sox player submerged in a baffling 2019 struggle.

A year ago, Andrew Benintendi was nearly named an All-Star. He entered the break with a .297/.380/.517 line, an extra-base machine who had 14 homers, 25 doubles, and five triples through 91 games, precisely the sort of profile that led the Red Sox to draft him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

One year later, the hard contact no longer comes with the steadiness of a metronome. Benintendi is hitting .268/.346/.424 with seven homers and 32 extra-base hits. His strikeout rate is up considerably (a career-high 23.0 percent) and he’s been inconsistent not just offensively but also defensively, where he has been (according to Defensive Runs Saved) a below-average player (three runs worse than average) as opposed to an above-average one (four runs above average) in 2018 who was a Gold Glove finalist in left field.

Another layer of frustration arrived on Saturday night, when Benintendi not only went 0 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout, but also failed to catch a fly ball in front of the wall.

Advertisement



“I just thought I was closer to the Wall than I was,” said Benintendi. “I should have made that play, obviously.”

The misplay somehow seemed to encapsulate the woes of this year for the just-turned-25-year-old.

“Last year, obviously we made the routine play, but last year we made the extraordinary play,” sighed Benintendi. “But that wasn’t an extraordinary play. I should have had that, I had two [on Friday] where one hits my glove and pops out and another was pretty close. Me, personally, I feel like I haven’t come up with a few that I should have.”

Benintendi couldn’t make the catch on an Alex Verdugo single in Friday night’s game against the Dodgers.Elise Amendola/AP/Associated Press

Benintendi’s deep sigh was three months of disappointment contained in a single exhalation. The outfielder has wrestled with his own performance and expectations before — whether as a freshman at Arkansas trying to play through injury in 2014 or as a big league rookie finding his way in 2017 — but suggests this is different.

Advertisement



“This feels worse. In 2017, it was my first full season, so I expected some frustrating times, but it seems like this whole year, I’ve been grinding and trying to find stuff,” said Benintendi. “It’s just not going. I haven’t hit a stride or anything right now. This is the most frustrated I’ve been, for sure.”

He expressed weary hope that a reversal is possible, mindful of the four-hit game he had just before the All-Star break.

“It just takes a blooper, I guess,” said Benintendi.

But for now, much like Sale, the inability of a hitter as gifted as Benintendi to achieve more sustainable success remains a riddle that has hindered the Red Sox in their search for consistency.


Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexspeier.