Andrew Benintendi is not feeling real “hitter-ish” these days. Make that the first half of the season. Actually, start from the second half of last season.
Benintendi, who turns 25 on Saturday, finds himself stuck in an offensive plateau in his third full season in the major leagues. After a sizzling start to his 2018 season in which he hit .297 with a .517 slugging percentage, .897 OPS and 14 home runs, Benintendi fell off the pace after last year’s All-Star break, hitting only .279, slugging .343 with a .727 OPS and just two homers.
The first half of this season Benintendi is hitting .266, slugging .421 with a .768 OPS, and seven homers. He has zero hits in his last 12 at-bats.
That next stage everybody expects gifted young hitters like Benintendi to take has yet to be taken.
And that was one reason why manager Alex Cora left Benintendi on the bench for all of Thursday night’s 8-7 victory.
“Not really an off day, he got here early and worked with (hitting coach) Timmy (Hyers) on a few things — we need him to feel ‘hitter-ish’ again,” said Cora. “I think his swing is not where he wants it to be. I don’t want to say he’s frustrated but kind of like one of those unplugging today. Show up early, work with Timmy and hopefully we can see the results right away. One of those that the numbers, they’re close but it doesn’t feel that way. And he doesn’t feel great mechanically. He’s working on a few things today in the cage and here early and hopefully it works out.”
Cora does not believe his 2019 results are related to his second-half swoon a year ago.
“I don’t think so, it’s more about this year,” the manager said. “His hands are not firing the way they usually do. You look at videos of Andrew in college all the way to last year, it’s the same swing. There’s a lot of swings and misses. A lot of chasing pitches up in the zone. Early in the season it was breaking balls down and in so there’s a few things that worked on today and it’s just a matter of going out there, if it’s tonight, tonight or whenever it is, but they’re on the same page as far as that and where to go and hopefully it works out.”