In just a few days, the New York Yankees will face the Boston Red Sox in the first-ever MLB game to be played in Europe. Continuing with our previews, here is the Bat Flips and Nerds take on the left fielders who may be in action in London.
- Team: Boston Red Sox
- Height: 178cm (5’ 10”)
- Age: 24
- Bats: Left-handed
- From: Ohio, USA
- 2019 salary: $0.7 million (pre-arbitration eligible)
Andrew Benintendi is the epitome of a five-tool player. He can hit for power, hit for average; he has a great arm, speed on the basepaths and is excellent defensively. He hasn’t won a Gold Glove yet, but the game-winning catch against the Astros was just about as good as you will see.
Taken by the Red Sox with the seventh overall pick of the 2015 draft, Benintendi was fast-tracked to the majors and finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 behind Yankees’ Aaron Judge.
Last year, as an integral part of the Boston Red Sox World Series winning roster, Benintendi led the team with 661 plate appearances and scored over 100 runs. Although his home runs and RBI were slightly down on the previous season, the advanced analytics loved his game with his wRC+ improving from 102 to 122.
His great-grandparents emigrated from Sciliy in the early 1900s which has given the 24-year-old outfielder strong links to Europe. He is looking forward to the London Series as a “cool experience which will be fun” despite the long-haul flight.
While discussing the dimensions of the newly-created field in the Olympic stadium which will feature an appealingly short 328 feet to centre, Benintendi suggested the best way to stop the Yankees from hitting homers was “just got to keep the ball on the ground.”
- Team: New York Yankees
- Height: 180cm (5’ 11”)
- Age: 35
- Bats: Left-handed
- From: South Carolina, USA
- 2019 salary: $7.5 million (free agent at the end of this season)
Preseason, Brett Gardner looked to be the odd man out. The Yankees outfield of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks appeared impenetrable, and with Luke Voit and Greg Bird, first base and designated hitter were also tied up. That’s not to mention former star prospect Clint Frazier waiting in the minors for his shot at the big time.
Injuries have decimated the Yankees roster this season and Hicks hit the IL before Opening Day. Gardner stepped in and has been a fixture in the outfield ever since.
The veteran outfield is a battler. Although his most productive days are behind him, the 35-year-old offers a left-handed bat, hits homers, steal bags, drives in players and gets on-base.
Gardner was taken in the third round of the 2005 draft, which is generally considered one of the best draft classes of recent times. The fact that only Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Andrew McCutchen of this fellow draftees have enjoyed better careers, shows how impressive Gardner has been since he debuted in 2008.
Even though he is the oldest hitter on the Yankees roster, Gardner again led the team in stolen bases last season.
At the MLB’s players weekend, the longest-tenured New York Yankee said he had “no time for freaking nicknames” and sported a nameless jersey. As the only player in the Yankees lineup below six foot, surely this was a missed opportunity. Gardner Gnome has an appealing ring to it.
Injuries are still impacting the Yankees, after all Giancarlo Stanton’s and Aaron Judge’s status is still uncertain. If Stanton/Judge fail to recover in time or if there is a lefty on the mound, look for Cameron Maybin to make an appearance.
Also taken in the 2005 draft (but with the 10th overall pick), Maybin made the Yankees his ninth team when he debuted April. Formerly known for his 40-stolen base threat, the veteran now offers the Yankees good outfield defence and a right-handed bat to platoon with Gardner.
Way back in 2007, as the youngest player in the league, Maybin hit his first home run off of Yankees’ legend Roger Clemens. In his next plate appearance, Maybin took one to the ribs.
Watch out for the rest of our player profiles and make sure you follow @BatFlips_Nerds on Twitter to keep up-to-date with all of the latest London Series news.