Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

Only those who saw Carl Yastrzemski play in the 1960s and 70s can really say whether anyone on the current roster can field and hit as well as the legendary Red Sox left fielder. Yaz’s status in Boston is only second to Ted Williams (and I would argue is well above David Ortiz). While Mookie Betts and Chris Sale certainly take the cake when it comes to the team’s top stars, this writer would argue that Benintendi is just starting what could become one of the greatest careers in Boston. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski?

Benintendi and Yastrzemski Side by Side

It’s hard NOT to compare the two. They both play in left field. Both came along shortlynext yastrzemski after the departure of legendary Red Sox hitters (Williams and Ortiz). They are both roughly the same size (5’11, 175 and 5’10, 170, respectively). They both posted solid numbers in their first full season in the majors with Benintendi hitting .271 with 20 HRs, and 90 RBIs while Yaz hit .266 with 11 HRs, and 80 RBIs. Statistically speaking, their first few years in the big leagues are not too different from one another. Does that mean Benintendi is the next Yastrzemski though? Hardly.

First of all, it wasn’t just the numbers that Yaz posted in his career that made him so legendary. He all but single-handedly carried the Red Sox to the World Series on his bat in the last two weeks of the 1967 season by hitting .491 (27/55) with five homers and 18 RBIs in the last fifteen games of the season. In his career, Yastrzemski won the 1967 Triple Crown and MVP, was an 18x All-Star, and a 7x Gold Glove Winner. Playing his entire career in Boston from 1961 to 1983 only cemented his status in Boston as one of the all-time greats. Benintendi, however, is only entering his third full season in the majors, but he’s already made strong impressions.

Benintendi’s Making Marks of His Own

Anyone who was watching Game 2 of the 2018 World Series will never forget the amazing catch Benintendi made to snuff out the Dodgers’ Brian Dozer’s hopes of getting a base hit. This catch came days after Benintendi made a game-saving robbery of a hit from the Astros’ Alex Bregman in the ALCS. Both catches factored significantly in Red Sox victories in those series. They also boosted Benintendi’s status as a strong left fielder. His abilities leave no doubt that Benintendi has the chance to be the next Yastrzemski of Boston.

So Is Benintendi the Next Yastrzemski?

It’s too early to tell right now. It’s rare for players to stay with one team for their entire careers anymore. If Benintendi stays in Boston though, it will surprise no one if twenty years from now we see his jersey number 16 retired alongside Yaz’s.

Is Benintendi Proving To Be The Real Deal?

I was concerned when the Red Sox called up Andrew Benintendi from the minors. The kid hadn’t even played in AAA Pawtucket yet. Regardless, Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell were eager to put him in the lineup. I thought Benintendi would have a hard time hitting against major league pitchers. I also thought about his lack of strength. He’s not nearly as big as his teammates. However, after almost two dozen games, while it’s great to see Benintendi proving himself, we have yet to see if he’s a fluke or the real thing. Will Benintendi maintain his consistency?

As of August 23rd, Benintendi is carrying a .306 batting average. That’s not too bad inBenintendi Proving 62 at-bats. It’s certainly better than what Jackie Bradley Jr. had his first year in Boston. In 2013, Bradley Jr. hit only .189 in 95 at-bats. Xander Bogaerts didn’t fare much better during the same time. So to see Benintendi proving himself by posting respectable numbers in that many at-bats is a sign that he could be the real deal.

One thing that people don’t discuss about Benintendi is his fielding. Before he was called up, Benintendi made zero errors in 143 chances in Double-A Portland. Before Portland, he made only one error in Single-A Salem. The same goes for the season before. In 2015 he made only one error in 131 chances at Single-A. That mades for  a.994 fielding percentage over two seasons in the minors. Not too shabby.

 It’s Great To See Benintendi Proving Himself At Defense, Too!

On August 22nd in a game against Tampa, Benintendi robbed Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza Jr. of a two-run home run in the eighth inning. Benintendi defied both gravity and the left field wall to keep the Rays from scoring another two runs. Earlier in the game, Benintendi drove in a run in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly. At this point, it is safe to say that Benintendi has delivered on the expectations Dombrowski and Farrell set for the rookie when he arrived in Boston. Now Benintendi has to prove that he’s the real deal by continuing to adjust his skills to maintain his success at the plate. We have yet to see if he can do so. But one thing is for sure. He’s off to a great start!