The American League Rookie of the Year Award seemed to be locked up at the Major League Baseball All-Star break, as New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge had set the sport ablaze during a blistering first half.
But Judge has been frozen for the entire second half, while another rookie has been so hot not even the Night King himself could cool him off.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi went through a prolonged slump toward the end of the first half, but the young star has broken out of his skid in a big way in August. The 23-year-old is hitting .375 with six home runs and 16 RBIs while recording a 1.101 OPS.
Judge, meanwhile, is hitting .169 in the second half with seven home runs and 14 RBIs, as well as 58 strikeouts. His average has dropped from .328 to .282, while setting a Major League Baseball record for consecutive games with a strikeout.
And while Judge certainly still is the leader in the clubhouse for the award, Benintendi has raised his average to .280 after Monday and has helped give the Red Sox a 4.5-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East.
Let’s not forget that Judge is hitting .155 with one home run and two RBIs, while striking out 25 times this season against the Red Sox. That was punctuated by a brutal weekend series at Fenway Park, where Judge went 1-for-12 with five strikeouts, as the Red Sox took two out of three from the Bronx Bombers.
Benintendi for the season hasn’t been much better against New York, as he is hitting .224 with four home runs and 12 RBIs against the division rival. But in the last two series against the Yankees, the young outfielder is 8-for-27 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, while lifting the Red Sox to a healthy lead in the division.
Judge’s 37 home runs and 80 RBIs likely still will get him the trophy, but Benintendi still has time, and he has shown this will be a rivalry for years to come.
Let’s take a look at more notes from Red Sox vs. Indians.
— Carson Smith worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts in a rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket.
— The Red Sox’s bullpen imploded Monday, and manager John Farrell told the media he went with Matt Barnes in the eighth inning because right-hander Addison Reed was unavailable.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images