The acquisition of outfielder Andrew Benintendi has certainly given the New York Yankees more depth as they head towards the latter part of this season. Early in the lefty’s New York tenure, manager Aaron Boone has placed him within the “lower middle” part of the order, specifically around the fifth or sixth slot.
However, one could argue that the lefty may be better suited as a spark plug that resides at the very bottom of the order.
At the time of this piece, Benintendi has slashed .314/.388/.389 and has been incredibly reliable at the plate. His K% ranks in the 93rd percentile and his BB% sits in the 80th percentile.
In layman’s terms, this means that Benny is the type of hitter who puts together tough at-bats without striking out a ton. Because of this trait, he’s able to attain free bases and play a scrappy brand of baseball.
Think there’s a reason Boone likened Benintendi to DJ LeMahieu when first speaking of the trade last week?
As fans know, the top of the order has religiously featured either DJ or Judge, which has been a consistent force this season. However, the bottom of the order has been less than ideal.
Aaron Hicks may hold a decent BB% like Benintendi, but has struggled to consistently make solid contact that results in hits or home runs. Jose Trevino is an exceptional defensive catcher, but not expected to be a true “slugger” or OBP savant at the plate by any means. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has hit for a somewhat respectable .268 average, but there’s now clearly a better option to round out the lineup and lead into the deadly tandem of DJ and Judge.
In terms of strategy, hitting Benintendi eighth or ninth may be quite fruitful. His ability to get on base by any means could set up valuable RBI opportunities for DJ, especially if the Yankees choose to be aggressive with the new outfielder on the bases.
Judge could benefit from having Benintendi behind him, too. Hitters such as DJ and Benny make pitchers work, and by the time they reach Judge, a mistake pitch may come as a result of pure attrition. This course of action would also allow the Bronx Bombers to keep the top and heart of the order as currently constructed when Giancarlo Stanton returns.
Continuity matters, and placing Benintendi at the bottom of the order allows both nuance and consistency to thrive. It may sound silly to say that such a powerful lineup needs to “tire out” opposing arms, but historically, many a postseason game has been lost due to arms that are out of gas after being worn down. Adding Benintendi to the bottom of the order gives New York a competitive advantage, and it’s just good baseball.