(Preface: I despise small sample sizes with the intensity of 1,000 white hot suns. Yet I understand an enormous portion of Yankees Universe absolutely adores small sample sizes so sometimes I’ll play along. We’ll return to this point in a minute.)
Since being inserted into the Yankees lineup on July 28th, here are Andrew Benintendi’s numbers:
82 PA, 76 wRC+, 0.0 (zero) WAR, and an .188/.296/.304 triple slash line.
If that didn’t make you cringe, Mr. High Contact also has a higher strikeout rate than Aaron Hicks over the same span. The zero WAR is the same as Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s over that stretch and essentially means that the Yankees could have expected the same production from Tim Locastro had they just given him the job instead of acquiring “Benny”.
The frustrating part to those of us who were paying attention is that this shouldn’t come as a surprise. At the time of his acquisition, Benintendi had a .366 batting average on balls in play, which is ridiculous on numerous levels. At the time, the BABIP was the seventh highest in MLB (which is very unusual for a player with a below-league average exit velocity) and was 50 points higher than his career average at the time. He may as well have been wearing a sign that read “Coming Soon: Regression!”
He was getting lucky early in 2022, plain and simple. The good fortune was bound to run out at some point and it did – the BABIP has been .255 since joining the Yankees, despite having an almost identical average exit velocity with the Yankees and Royals.
If you want to open up the sample size, Benintendi has essentially been a league-average hitter with little power for a very long time. Over 1,677 PA since 2019 his SLG has been below league average and he’s posted a 104 OPS+. That’s great if you’re solid defensively as a shortstop or center fielder, but generally speaking, you’re going to need more production than that from an everyday left fielder.
Now to be clear (and this is why I hate small sample sizes), Benintendi is not a bad player. It’s likely he’s going to play better over the next six weeks than he has in his first three weeks in pinstripes. That said, anyone who thought the Yankees acquired a legit producer at the deadline who could move the needle for them in a significant manner just wasn’t paying attention. As I said at the time I’m not sure he’s better than Hicks or Estevan Florial and if he is, it’s only marginally – certainly not worth giving up players in a trade for him.
Although I’m still, quite bitterly, wondering what Juan Soto would look like in pinstripes.
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