It’s safe to say that last season was an underwhelming one for White Sox fans. A year after 93 wins and an AL Central title, the White Sox won just 81 games and failed to get past the Cleveland Guardians in the division. Chicago still retains a strong core, and that group just received a big addition with the reported signing of outfielder Andrew Benintendi.
A Look at Benintendi
Andrew Benintendi has been of the game’s more consistent hitters since his MLB debut in 2016. In his initial run in the Majors, Benintendi displayed why the Red Sox drafted the former Arkansas standout in the top ten of the 2015 MLB Draft. Across a 34-game sample, Benintendi produced a .295/.359/.476 slash line with the Sox. The former Red Sox showed a penchant for making solid contact, and that has largely continued throughout his career.
In the six full seasons following his rookie campaign, Benintendi hit at least .270 or better in four of those campaigns. That can largely be attributed to a strong, disciplined approach at the plate. On average, the 28-year old has produced above-average Chase% and Whiff% rates, and possesses the ability to make good contact and spray the ball to all sides of the field. Benintendi has also hit 15 or more home runs in three seasons, with a career high of 20 that was set in 2017.
Benintendi had just five home runs in 2022, a stark contrast from the 15-20 range that the Ohio native has traditionally produced on a yearly basis. Despite that low home run total, the 28-year old had a very good season at the dish. Benintendi set career highs in both batting average (.304) and OBP (.372). The former Royal batted .320 across 93 games in 2022, before a trade that sent the left fielder to the Bronx. A wrist injury, though, kept Benintendi out for most of September and all of the postseason.
A smooth-swinging outfielder that has shown good contact ability throughout his career, Benintendi now brings a resume that includes a Gold Glove, an All-Star nomination, and a World Series ring to the south side of Chicago.
What it Means
Aside from Luis Robert, the White Sox didn’t receive the best production from the team’s collection of outfielders last season. Chicago received below-average production in 2022 from outfielders AJ Pollock (91 OPS+) and Gavin Sheets (98 OPS+), the former of whom is currently a free agent. Andrew Vaughn, another one of Chicago’s outfielders last season, profiles better at first and could very well be the Sox’s Opening Day first baseman next season.
An addition for the White Sox’s outfield made sense, and Chicago didn’t too bad with inking Benintendi to a five-year, $75 million deal. Albeit not a prolific power hitter, Benintendi is one of the game’s better contact hitters and could hit at least 15 home runs in Chicago. The 28-year old should fit nicely at the top of the White Sox’s lineup alongside Tim Anderson.
The White Sox did lose star first baseman Jose Abreu last month to the Astros, a blow to a Chicago squad that underachieved last season. Benintendi should help in the White Sox lineup, but the onus of the team’s run production will still be on the likes of Robert, Vaughn, and Eloy Jimenez. If those three can stay healthy, Chicago has a chance to do damage in a competitive AL Central division.