Heading into his third full year in Major League Baseball, 2019 is shaping up to be an important one for Andrew Benintendi.
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed during the offseason that he would be swapping Benintendi and American League MVP Mookie Betts in the batting order, minting Benintendi as Boston’s next leadoff hitter.
Benintendi has put up somewhat steady numbers in a Red Sox uniform, batting .282 with 38 home runs, 191 RBIs and 202 runs scored through his first 333 games in the bigs, but has gone through power droughts. He launched just three home runs after the All-Star break last season. But that doesn’t seem to bother Benintendi, who told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that he is much more concerned with his batting average than his power numbers in his approach as a leadoff hitter.
“Everybody talks about how I didn’t hit any homers last year,” Benintendi said. “Whatever. It was four less than the year before (16 compared to 20). I’ll take a higher average than the year before (.290 from .271) with less homers. I think that’s my game, so I’ll leave the lot of home runs to other guys.
“I think (batting average) is pretty important, especially with (Betts and J.D. Martinez) behind you,” he added. “If I get on base and still hit, that’s a plus. I think for me, I just want to hit over .300. That’s my number and then everything else will fall into place.”
It’s a promising mindset from Benintendi, who was moved into the leadoff spot to give the likes of Betts and Martinez more opportunities to drive in runs. That likely would not play out well if Benintendi was swinging for the fences on a regular basis. The 24-year-old has shown he is well on his way to be a reliable professional hitter, and the Red Sox are hoping that translates to the leadoff spot.
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