Depending on whose prospect rankings you follow, Red Sox super-prospect is either #1 or #2 in baseball. After the BoSox moved Yoan Moncada for Chris Sale, however, he is the undisputed #1 prospect in the Red Sox system. Does this mean that he is a good bet to blow up this year, and should he be a player to target in your fantasy baseball drafts?
Last year, Benintendi had a cup of coffee with the big league club. In his 34 games, he pulled a .295/.359/.476 slash line with two HR, 16 RBI, 14 R and one stolen base. While 118 PA isn’t nearly enough to pro-rate out what he can do over the course of a full season, his secondary batted ball figures can give us an idea of what he might be in 2017, or at least what he could be. For this exercise, we will look at all the players who (a) had a qualifying number of plate appearances and (b) had a batted ball and plate discipline profile similar to Benintendi since the advent of advanced batted ball profiles. For reference, here were Benintendi’s numbers last year:
(line drive rate, ground ball rate, fly ball rate, strikeout rate, and walk rate, for the uninitiated)
Taking every player who matched that profile, taking their career numbers per game, and pro-rating them out to 162 games, you get the following 5×5 line:
18 HR, 75 RBI, 73 R, 7 SB and a .260 average.
Since a batted ball profile has no predictive value for stolen bases, let’s toss that out (especially considering he stole 14 in 2015 and 17 in 2016 if you combine his numbers between levels). Fangraphs’ prediction systems are slightly more bearish on Benintendi than that, but are in the similar ballpark.
Currently, Benintendi is going as the #38 outfielder off the board per FantasyPros, at 138 overall. This is a solid range for Benintendi, who will offer a good mix of speed and power, but won’t excel at either. Another benefit Benintendi has is the powerful Red Sox lineup he will presumably enter, which will benefit both his runs and RBI numbers.
In three outfielder leagues, Benintendi will be a great fourth outfielder to have to bank on his all-around upside. There are some words of caution, however: he’s very young, and very raw. It’s entirely possible he hits a wall and needs to get sent down at some point. However, his upside is in the 20/20/75/75/.290 range, which is a great all-around outfielder to get.
With plentiful solid but unspectacular outfield options going behind Benintendi, he’s a good bet as a fourth fantasy baseball outfielder with upside. However, don’t fall in love with him because of his prospect rankings. He’s not fully formed, which only means he hasn’t had a chance to suck yet in our eyes, and he hasn’t gone through the maturation process, like Byron Buxton. His risk is somewhat mitigated by his draft round. He’s a decent double digit-round flyer, but don’t expect another Kris Bryant or Justin Turner. There’s plenty of outfield talent, so if you swing and miss, you have a nice cushion to fall back on.