Super Benintendi

Pitt the Elder

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With the ongoing Mookie Betts splooge-fest thread, I thought I'd start a thread for Benintendi where we can analyze his 2018 performance.

In the midst of the offensive onslaught the Sox have unleashed on the league so far in 2018, Beni's contributions have seemed muted so far. Qualitatively, he doesn't seem to be barrelling up the ball and making consistent, solid contact. However, he's been walking a ton and hasn't been striking out.

So what's happening? Here are some of his stats, per Fangraphs:

SeasonBB %K %BB/KAVGOPBSLGOPSISOSpdBABIPwRC+
20168.5%21.2%0.400.2950.3590.4760.8350.1815.20.367122
201710.6%17.0%0.630.2710.3520.4240.7760.1544.50.301103
201816.2%16.2%1.000.2320.3540.3780.7320.1468.10.273100

Not a surprise, Beni's walk rate is way up, his k rate is stable, and his average and slugging are down. However, his BABIP is also down, so perhaps he's just been unlucky and the hits will start coming soon. But how is he hitting the ball?

SeasonGB/FBLD%GB%FB%IFFB%HR/FB%PULL%CENT%OPPO %HARD %
20160.9425.0%36.3%38.8%9.7%6.5%43.9%29.3%26.8%32.9%
20171.0421.5%40.1%38.4%10.1%11.2%34.3%37.0%28.7%34.3%
20181.5719.4%49.3%31.3%9.5%4.8%47.8%23.9%28.4%19.4%

It's less that Beni has been unlucky and more that he's simply making worse contact. His GB % is way up and his LD%, FB%, HR/FB% and hard contact % are way down. He's also pulling the ball a lot more than last year. The implication is that he's pulling grounders to the right side and hitting pretty weak fly balls. Considering the new focus on launch angle and hunting strikes to be aggressive, this is a bit surprising. But, the stats indicate that Beni is likely trying to do just that:

SeasonO-Swing %Z-Swing %Swing %O-Contact %Z-Contact %Contact %Zone %F-Strike%Sw-Str%
201625.2%62.9%42.7%71.9%87.8%82.8%46.5%61.9%7.4%
201729.0%64.5%44.0%71.2%89.4%82.5%42.2%54.7%7.6%
201828.6%69.5%45.3%73.5%88.6%83.0%40.8%57.6%7.7%

Beni is being just as selective in swinging at strikes outside the zone and he's not swinging and missing at pitches any more often. If anything, he looks more aggressive at pitches inside the strike zone and seems to be making contact at close to his normal rates. With that said, let's see how he's being pitched to:

SeasonFB %SL%CT%CB%CH%SF%
201654.3% (92.6)15.8% (83.6)9.1% (87.8)7.8% (78.3)11.6% (83.6)1.5% (86.3)
201754.3% (92.9)11.8% (84.0)6.4% (88.9)10.9% (79.2)13.7% (85.0)2.8% (84.7)
201851.7% (92.3)11.7% (82.4)7.7% (87.2)5.2% (78.4)21.1% (84.6)2.5% (82.5)

Even though Beni's approach at the plate seems largely unchanged, the same can't be said for the pitchers facing him. When looking at the pitches he sees, the biggest difference seems to be that he's seeing far fewer curveballs and far more changeups. Is the explanation simply that he's seeing more changups and pulling too many of them as weak groundballs? If so, how does he adjust?

I'm sure others can add more sophisticated analyses to that above. I wonder, though - if Beni keeps getting on base yet struggles to hit for power, and Mookie continues to mash, does it make sense to switch them in the batting order?

[EDIT] Fixed typos.
 

tims4wins

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Forgive the anti-splooge nature of this post, but 10D has to be one of the worst baserunners I have ever seen for a speedy guy. I was hoping for an improvement from last year thinking that it was due to rookie nerves and learning the big league game, but early returns this year (like the botched tag up play) have not been encouraging. He is a liability on the bases.
 

sean1562

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That pick off at second with JD at the plate was inexcusable. Thank god martinez hot one out a few innings later. But yea two big mistakes in really tight games. If he is just a LF I expect more from his bat and on the bases
 

Dewey'sCannon

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I don't blame him that much for the tag play at third - the ump got in his way so he couldn't see the catch, and Febles apparently didn't communicate well enough so that he knew when to go. But getting picked off 2nd was really bad (although he did make a good read and good slide to get into 2nd on the double). I think he knows he's fast and just wants to be aggressive on the bases, but needs some better coaching on things like getting the right leads and making the right reads. His speed probably covered for a lot of mistakes in college or the minors that he can't get away with in the big leagues.
 

ehaz

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Just from the eye test, he seems to be pulling soft stuff away and it often results in a groundball to second/the shift. I think part of this is just growing pains - as the data show, Frodo is seeing a lot more offspeed stuff as the league is recognizing his ability as a hitter. So far it’s working - let’s see if Benintendi can adjust.
 

tims4wins

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I know I already harped on his baserunning, but I want to express another concern about 10D: that he is the latter day Trot Nixon, in that he mashes righties but can't hit lefties.

Career splits:
Benny: .840 vs righties / .548 vs lefties
Trot: .872 vs righties / .630 vs lefties

Different offensive eras and all, but it's a major concern to me. Even in Trot's best overall years (2001, 2003) he didn't hit lefties particularly well (.604 and .671, respectively).

Are my concerns valid, or do we expect some improvement against lefties?

Edit: for reference their career BABIP vs. lefties is an identical .267, FWIW
 

bosox79

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I know I already harped on his baserunning, but I want to express another concern about 10D: that he is the latter day Trot Nixon, in that he mashes righties but can't hit lefties.

Career splits:
Benny: .840 vs righties / .548 vs lefties
Trot: .872 vs righties / .630 vs lefties

Different offensive eras and all, but it's a major concern to me. Even in Trot's best overall years (2001, 2003) he didn't hit lefties particularly well (.604 and .671, respectively).

Are my concerns valid, or do we expect some improvement against lefties?

Edit: for reference their career BABIP vs. lefties is an identical .267, FWIW
He hit them in the minors in an incredibly small sample size. Of course his sample size in the majors is only 194 PA. I don't think we really know yet.
 

tims4wins

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He hit them in the minors in an incredibly small sample size. Of course his sample size in the majors is only 194 PA. I don't think we really know yet.
Thanks. Wonder if Trot ever hit them in the minors. I agree 194 PA is too small of a sample, but if we are still at this point late in the year or possibly late next year we may be at that point. We are very luck X and 10D are as good as they are but realistically Mookie is the only true superstar of the Killer Bs.
 

bosox79

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Thanks. Wonder if Trot ever hit them in the minors. I agree 194 PA is too small of a sample, but if we are still at this point late in the year or possibly late next year we may be at that point. We are very luck X and 10D are as good as they are but realistically Mookie is the only true superstar of the Killer Bs.
Nixon had one passable year in 2000 where he slashed .264/.371/.396 in 54 PA. Outside of that, all his other years were sub .700, including 2 sub .500 OPS seasons. In comparison, Ben10 hit .283/.400/.413 in 55 PA vs L in 2015 in the minors, and .326/.412/.488 in 50 PA vs L in 2016 (also minors).
 

tims4wins

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Nixon had one passable year in 2000 where he slashed .264/.371/.396 in 54 PA. Outside of that, all his other years were sub .700, including 2 sub .500 OPS seasons. In comparison, Ben10 hit .283/.400/.413 in 55 PA vs L in 2015 in the minors, and .326/.412/.488 in 50 PA vs L in 2016 (also minors).
Do you know if Trot hit them in the minors? I can't seem to find it. Hopefully just normal growing pains for 10D
 

bosox79

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Do you know if Trot hit them in the minors? I can't seem to find it. Hopefully just normal growing pains for 10D
It's almost impossible to find minor league splits before 2000 or so. The scouting reports were concerned about Nixon vs L though, and I don't remember the scouting reports being concerned about Benintendi. Still something worth keeping an eye on, especially with JBJs continued struggles.
 

tims4wins

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It's almost impossible to find minor league splits before 2000 or so. The scouting reports were concerned about Nixon vs L though, and I don't remember the scouting reports being concerned about Benintendi. Still something worth keeping an eye on, especially with JBJs continued struggles.
Got it, thanks
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
It's not just LHP with Benintendi: It's LHP + Fenway.

Here are his career platoon splits:

vs. RHP: 119 wRC+ (706 PA)
vs. LHP: 52 (194)

Now his career home/road splits:

Home: 97 (422)
Road: 111 (478)

Now the four combined splits:

Home vs. RHP: 120 (329)
Road vs. RHP: 118 (377)
Road vs. LHP: 85 (101)
Home vs. LHP: 16 (93)

Against RHP, he's pretty much the same hitter at home or on the road. Vs. LHP, he's a bad hitter on the road, but not quite a disaster. At home, he's an unmitigated train wreck. He should simply never start a game at Fenway against a lefthanded starter until he shows signs of figuring this out.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
That is crazy wonder why
One possible clue: at Fenway, he should be going to the opposite field more, especially on fly balls, but his oppo rate overall is actually a bit lower at home, 26.7% vs. 29.0%--and it's a whole lot lower on fly balls, 44.4% to 56.3%. Here's a revealing stat: in nearly two full seasons in the bigs, Beni has only one base hit on a fly ball to the opposite field at home--a single. This says to me that either pitchers have figured out how to pitch him so as to neutralize the Monster, or he's unable or unwilling to adjust his approach to take advantage of it. Either way, he needs to solve this.
 

effectivelywild

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That is crazy wonder why

Fenway Park measures 310 feet (94.5 meters) down the left field line: 379 feet(115.5 meters) in left center field; 390 feet (118.9 meters) in center field; 420 feet(128 meters) in deep center field; 380 feet (115.8 meters) in deep right field; and 302 feet (92 meters) down the right field line.


Right field in Fenway is pretty big. He's been pulling the ball a lot, especially against lefties. You have to hit the ball real hard to do damage to right in Fenway.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
This approach seems like it would make it difficult for him to figure out.
An overreaction, maybe. But my point was that he should work out whatever issues he has vs. LHP on the road, where they seem less damaging.

I mean, basically I think the Sox should trade him. He should be playing CF in a park that's friendly to LH pull hitters. The difference between that role and the one he's got is probably worth close to a win per year. We should be able to benefit from that exchange.
 

uncannymanny

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I get that value in a vacuum approach, but that supposes there’s a suitable swap available and that that player will have no problems at Fenway. I’d rather see how these numbers look at the ASB and end of the season before I’d start making phone calls.

It’s entirely possible that just raw results aren’t telling the entire story, too. He should be playing every day and working with his coaches to review the results and develop plans to improve on them.
 

brandonchristensen

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I guess you're kidding, right?
Not really.

Since JDM is adamant on playing the field, and since lefties are the minorities on most teams that aren't the Sox...if 10D's splits were THAT bad against LHP, JDM could fill in left field on those days, and DH the rest of the time.
 

bosockboy

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Not really.

Since JDM is adamant on playing the field, and since lefties are the minorities on most teams that aren't the Sox...if 10D's splits were THAT bad against LHP, JDM could fill in left field on those days, and DH the rest of the time.
The problem is JBJ is worse and that leaves his bat in there. It also puts Moreland in vs a lefty.
 

chawson

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An overreaction, maybe. But my point was that he should work out whatever issues he has vs. LHP on the road, where they seem less damaging.

I mean, basically I think the Sox should trade him. He should be playing CF in a park that's friendly to LH pull hitters. The difference between that role and the one he's got is probably worth close to a win per year. We should be able to benefit from that exchange.
I’m on this train too. Felt like a missed opportunity not to have swapped him for Yelich (especially if you imagine Chavis as the second piece in that deal).

With his Fenway problems, struggles against LHP, and the fact that his defensive value is partially unused playing left, he’s more replaceable than we think. A little worse defensively, but guys like Matt Joyce, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Corey Dickerson have given their teams roughly what Benintendi has given ours.
 

bosockboy

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At minimum they need a competent RHH outfielder to help mitigate this. If Travis could play a passable LF it would help but I doubt that’s the case. Between him and JBJ there’s too much weakness against LHP to ignore this.
 

Pitt the Elder

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What about dropping Beni down to 7th or 8th in the lineup? Take some pressure off and put someone at the bottom of the order that can at least get on base with a walk.
 

Al Zarilla

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What about dropping Beni down to 7th or 8th in the lineup? Take some pressure off and put someone at the bottom of the order that can at least get on base with a walk.
Moving him down might shake Beni up a bit and nudge him into hitting better. Never know unless you try it. I can’t wait for Pedroia to be back and hit second or low in the order. Either of those should be a big improvement and get stoneglove Nunez off the field.
 

grimshaw

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I mentioned in the lineup thread about their struggles vs lefties but I think he deserves more rope.

It seems like he's been here a while, but he only has 166 career plate appearances vs. lefties. He has an above average k% runs pretty well and had a 6+ hit tool coming up. There is still time before locking him into a permanent platoon.

Anthony Rizzo really struggled his first 2+ seasons vs lefties with similar above average k rates and hit tool and then figured it out. I think Beni will too.

As for trade talk - they have no outfield depth or payroll flexibility. I have no doubt they could fetch a good return, but its hard to see how it would address a current weakness without going over the tax.
 

gedman211

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I mentioned in the lineup thread about their struggles vs lefties but I think he deserves more rope.

It seems like he's been here a while, but he only has 166 career plate appearances vs. lefties. He has an above average k% runs pretty well and had a 6+ hit tool coming up. There is still time before locking him into a permanent platoon.

Anthony Rizzo really struggled his first 2+ seasons vs lefties with similar above average k rates and hit tool and then figured it out. I think Beni will too.

As for trade talk - they have no outfield depth or payroll flexibility. I have no doubt they could fetch a good return, but its hard to see how it would address a current weakness without going over the tax.
I was under the impression that they reset the tax last year, so they would be willing to to go over for a year because the penalties aren't prohibitive the 1st year. I think for the right player, they'll go over if they are still in contention.
 

Harry Hooper

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I was under the impression that they reset the tax last year, so they would be willing to to go over for a year because the penalties aren't prohibitive the 1st year. I think for the right player, they'll go over if they are still in contention.
You also might see Rusney get called up in August/September since his pro-rata salary hit is less at that point.
 

MikeM

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Rusney would solve a lot of issues.
Even considering the possibility that DD simply isn't as concerned with 2nd tier LT hits in the grander scheme short term as some here would like him to be, which is actually looking like a pretty good assumption at this point and with the team (with upgrade holes) doing as well as it is atm/imo, Rusney is currently OPS'ing .722 in AAA. Not exactly banging down the door and eat the last year on the books since you are going over the next 2 anyway stuff.

As far as potentially trading Ben10 goes, I'm guessing the more pressing and surrounding question on JBJ's offensive floor going forward would need to be better answered before going down that road.
 

gedman211

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Even considering the possibility that DD simply isn't as concerned with 2nd tier LT hits in the grander scheme short term as some here would like him to be, which is actually looking like a pretty good assumption at this point and with the team (with upgrade holes) doing as well as it is atm/imo, Rusney is currently OPS'ing .722 in AAA. Not exactly banging down the door and eat the last year on the books since you are going over the next 2 anyway stuff.

As far as potentially trading Ben10 goes, I'm guessing the more pressing and surrounding question on JBJ's offensive floor going forward would need to be better answered before going down that road.
JBJ's floor might be in Japan
 

rhswanzey

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Against RHP, he's pretty much the same hitter at home or on the road. Vs. LHP, he's a bad hitter on the road, but not quite a disaster. At home, he's an unmitigated train wreck. He should simply never start a game at Fenway against a lefthanded starter until he shows signs of figuring this out.
You've built this argument on a 92 PA career split for a 23 YO.

I don't think we have any reason to think Benintendi is a finished product. I also don't think it's time to conclude there is some inherent problem with Benintendi's approach versus lefties that Fenway itself accentuates. His walk and strikeout rates are virtually a wash (23.7 K% at home vL against 23.5% away vL). Benintendi has had nine fewer PA at home vL compared to away vL. He has four fewer walks and seven fewer hits (3 fewer XBH).

Basically, the next time Benintendi gets to face a Jason Vargas at home and goes 3-4 with a double and a walk or something, this argument no longer works. The samples are that small.

If you were making the case that we are going to need lefty protection for Benintendi (and JBJ) down the stretch, that's one thing. You seem to be saying there is some appreciable difference in Benintendi's approach or true talent level that makes him an inferior hitter against lefties specifically at home. The samples are too small to conclude this and noisy enough that one big game or big home series will make Benintendi look weaker against lefties in general, but with no real distinction between home or road games.
 

Sampo Gida

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When only 10 of 174 MLB qualified hitters have fewer HR than you, the Super must be dropped

I'd like to see more Power. Maybe he needs to hang out with JDM more or spend more time in the gym. Something

In the mean time he needs to go up the middle more and hit the ball in the air more. Might not get him more HR but he will get more hits
 

Reverend

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When only 10 of 174 MLB qualified hitters have fewer HR than you, the Super must be dropped

I'd like to see more Power. Maybe he needs to hang out with JDM more or spend more time in the gym. Something

In the mean time he needs to go up the middle more and hit the ball in the air more. Might not get him more HR but he will get more hits
Benintendi GameBoy?
 

Pitt the Elder

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BeNES Classic?

BTW, don't we have a bunch of cautionary tales of young guys going through a tough stretch before figuring things out? Pedey, Mookie, etc?
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
I also don't think it's time to conclude there is some inherent problem with Benintendi's approach versus lefties that Fenway itself accentuates.
It may not be a question of Benintendi's approach so much as his ability to adjust to pitchers' approach to him.

Yes, the sample is certainly still very small. But when you look at things like batted-ball rates -- the kind of numbers that most directly reflect whether a hitter is "winning the PA", so to speak, before the signal is filtered through luck and whatever other kinds of noise to produce things like BABIP and wOBA -- the picture doesn't change. Benintendi's hard-hit rate overall is 32.1%. Against lefties, it's 21.9%. Against lefties at home, it's 13.3%. At what point do those numbers become meaningful? If 92 PA isn't enough -- and you may well be right that it isn't -- what would be?
 

Pitt the Elder

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It may not be a question of Benintendi's approach so much as his ability to adjust to pitchers' approach to him.

Yes, the sample is certainly still very small. But when you look at things like batted-ball rates -- the kind of numbers that most directly reflect whether a hitter is "winning the PA", so to speak, before the signal is filtered through luck and whatever other kinds of noise to produce things like BABIP and wOBA -- the picture doesn't change. Benintendi's hard-hit rate overall is 32.1%. Against lefties, it's 21.9%. Against lefties at home, it's 13.3%. At what point do those numbers become meaningful? If 92 PA isn't enough -- and you may well be right that it isn't -- what would be?
Do park factors really influence things like hard hit rate? I can see the argument the Fenways right field is impacting Beni's ability to pull homeruns, but it shouldn't impact his ability to square up the ball and hit it hard.
 

rhswanzey

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When only 10 of 174 MLB qualified hitters have fewer HR than you, the Super must be dropped

I'd like to see more Power. Maybe he needs to hang out with JDM more or spend more time in the gym. Something
When Brett Gardner was Benintendi's age, he was splitting a season between AA and AAA and hit one home run. It took him a while to hit a late peak, but he developed into a 20/20 threat. We would be thrilled with 30 WAR from Andrew in his first eight seasons.

BTW, I was expecting Gardner to show up on his B-R comp list, but he's not on either similar batters or similar batters through age 22. Benintendi's top 10 comparable hitters through age 22 include two hall of famers (Dave Winfield, Andre Dawson) and two guys who would have at least defensible cases to the big hall crowd (Harold Baines, Ellis Burks). Having as much success in MLB as Benintendi has already had at his age is a giant harbinger of future success and staying power.


Even for us, it honestly amazes me that Benintendi is starting to be seen as some kind of flawed player or flawed part of the roster. Letting him play through struggles and face most lefties is a no-brainer for maximizing long term development and also almost definitely a part of our optimized lineup on every single gameday no matter who is resting or who is hurt.

I think you limit JBJ's exposure to lefties to move Benintendi to CF and get post-Pedroia return Nunez into the lineup (why would we do this to, say, start Moreland against a lefty?); I don't think you prioritize sitting Benintendi beyond scheduled rest days. The best Sox team might maximize OF defense and not sit either guy, but I think JBJ's the guy who loses time first before you talk about backing off Andrew. I'd generally start both OFers against most lefties, let JD get a start or two per week out there, and not really consider something drastic beyond that if it's not the postseason.