Andrew Benintendi

Dustin Pedroia's sad connection to Jim Rice, and other surprising Red Sox numbers

spark_sox_stats.jpg
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Dustin Pedroia's sad connection to Jim Rice, and other surprising Red Sox numbers

Cover the Red Sox for a year and you'll spend a lot of time staring at Baseball-Reference, the pre-eminent site for the kind of stats you would've found on a Topps card in 1986, as well as many of the advanced numbers that have transformed the modern game.

Over the course of a season, some numbers will occasionally jump out at you. Here are five, from lowest to highest, that caught my attention in 2019.

.001 — The difference in OPS between Rafael Devers (.916) in his superstar breakout year and Mookie Betts (.915) in his lackluster MVP follow-up. Anyone who watched the team knows that Devers was the more impactful offensive player, especially from May through July, when the Red Sox still  believed they had a shot at the playoffs. And yet when all was said and done, their numbers were virtually identical. It turns out that context matters.

3 — Hits for Dustin Pedroia since the start of 2018. He's had just 31 at-bats in that span, but that has been enough to drop his lifetime average from .300 to .299. He's almost certain to become a victim of the Jim Rice Effect. The Hall of Fame slugger was a .300 hitter for almost his entire career, dropping below that threshold on May 5, 1989. He played only 29 more games, and finished at .298. Let the record show that Pedroia was still a lifetime .300 hitter (technically .299535, but baseball rounds up), until grounding to short to lead off his penultimate game against Baltimore's Dan Straily. If this is it, he'll finish his career two hits shy of .300.

10 — Wins in Brandon Workman's out-of-nowhere dominant season, which saw him become the first pitcher in history to follow a 1-10 season (in 2014) with a 10-1 campaign. Only 55 pitchers since 1900 have won no more than one game while losing at least 10. Even rarer is the inverse, which has been done 21 times. Workman is the only pitcher to appear on both lists.

15 — Andrew Benintendi home runs since the second half of 2018. Benintendi entered the 2018 All-Star break with 14 bombs and nearly made the All-Star team. He has suffered a mystifying power outage since, managing just two homers in the second half of 2018 and 13 last year. That means he has dropped from 14 homers in the first 91 games of 2018 to 15 in the 195 games since.

21 — Months that Jackie Bradley Jr. has hit under .220 with the Red Sox. Compare that to three crazy outliers that saw him hit over .350 and it becomes clear how misleading it is to call him streaky, a term that suggests roughly equal performance in both directions. Take away August of 2015 (.354), May of 2016 (.381), and June of 2017 (.353) and Bradley's career average dips from .236 to .221, which helps explain why the Red Sox are likely to move on from the defensive whiz this winter.

MLB's Top 20 free agents this offseason>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Four Boston Red Sox players named 2019 Gold Glove award finalists

Four Boston Red Sox players named 2019 Gold Glove award finalists

MLB announced its 2019 Gold Glove award finalists on Thursday, and four Boston Red Sox players made the cut.

Catcher Christian Vazquez, left fielder Andrew Benintendi, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., and right fielder Mookie Betts were each recognized for their defensive prowess in the 2019 campaign.

This is Vazquez's first Gold Glove nomination since entering the league in 2014. While making an impact behind the plate, the 29-year-old enjoyed the best offensive season of his career hitting .276 with 23 home runs and 72 RBI. Joining Vazquez as finalists in the American League are Indians catcher Roberto Perez and Blue Jays backstop Danny Jansen.

Benintendi was nominated for a Gold Glove award last year, but it was Royals left fielder Alex Gordon who took home the hardware for the fifth time in his career. Gordon will compete with Benintendi again this year, along with the Athletics' Robbie Grossman.

Bradley is a perrenial Gold Glove candidate, so this one doesn't come as much of a surprise. The 2018 Gold Glove award winner certainly has some competition this year, though, in Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier and Angels superstar Mike Trout.

Betts, like Bradley, earned a Gold Glove in 2018. If he does so again this year, it'll be his fourth straight. The '18 AL MVP will go up against Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun and the Astros' Josh Reddick.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Alex Cora: Andrew Benintendi will have bounce-back season for Red Sox in 2020

Alex Cora: Andrew Benintendi will have bounce-back season for Red Sox in 2020

Although Andrew Benintendi had a rough 2019 season, he's primed to have a better year in 2020. 

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora noted that of all his players, Benintendi will be the one to have a strong bounce-back season both at the plate and in the field. 

“He has a few ideas about what he’s going to work on during the offseason and where we’re going to take him. This guy is going to bounce back,” Cora said according to MLB.com's Ian Browne. “Look at his numbers, look at the doubles. Well, that’s a bad season. There’s just a few things he didn’t do this year that I think he’s going to get better at.”

While going more in-depth, Cora continued to say that he thinks the left fielder will be a more complete player overall in 2020 -- and that's what he loves.

“When you guys ask me Feb. 15 who will be the bounce-back player [in 2020], Andrew will be the guy,” Cora said. “I do think he’s a 20-homer guy, 45-doubles, a complete player. A lot of people love the home runs, I love the complete player. He can be a .400-OBP guy with 20 bags, 20 homers, 45 doubles and play good defense. We’ll take that player.”

Benintendi, 25, averaged .266 at the dish with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs in 2019 -- a rather down year for the University of Arkansas product. Since the 2017 season, Benintendi has seen a dip in his home run production (20 in 2017, to 13 in 2019), RBIs (90 in 2017, to 68 in 2019) and batting average (.271 in 2017, to .266 in 2019). 

While he continuously struggled throughout the 2019 campaign, it was a grind for him -- and things never seemed to get any easier. Benintendi noted a lack of consistency led to a majority of his problems, and he'd like to work on being more steady during the offseason.

Learning from his mistakes could help him have a much better year in 2020 -- at least that's what Cora thinks.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.