On Tuesday, Rick Hahn told reporters via Zoom that the White Sox weren’t counting on Andrew Benintendi’s homer total to jump based on moving from Kauffman Stadium’s spacious power alleys to Guaranteed Rate Field’s cozier dimensions. He could see it happening, but he said they signed Benintendi because of the player he’s been, and not necessarily the one he could be.
On Wednesday, Benintendi sounded willing to go where Hahn wouldn’t.
“For me, playing at Kauffman in 2021 I got pretty frustrated just flying out to, we joked about it all the time, these long flyouts,” Benintendi said. “I’m not the biggest guy, it’s going to take everything I can to hit a ball out of that stadium. So going into last year, I was thinking let’s just hit for higher average and higher on-base and hopefully this works, or I’m going to be in a world of trouble. I’m trying to be a complete hitter.” […]
“Playing in (Guaranteed Rate), a lot of those long flyouts will turn into doubles and home runs without even trying to change anything,” Benintendi said. “Whatever player they need me to be, that’s who I’ll try to be.”
Pedro Grifol introduced Benintendi in person a day after Hahn’s remote session. You’d think that the team’s franchise-record acquisition would demand all of the team’s key decision-makers to be in one place on the same day, but maybe the White Sox know deep down that $75 million isn’t really a figure worth commemorating. (The Sox said Hahn was traveling Wednesday, for what it’s worth.)
Benintendi was asked about his status as the recipient of the team’s most lucrative contract, and he probably spoke for more people than himself around the team when he said “it’s almost an uncomfortable conversation to have.”
“I’m very grateful but for me it’s like, I’m not a material guy or whatever it is. It’s nice to have. My job is to show up and play and win baseball games. It’s the same whether I’m the highest number or the lowest number, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s all about winning games and getting out there and helping the team any way I can.
“Definitely excited to be here. It’s humbling to know that, but now, I’m ready to kick things off.”
There’s nothing actually humbling about receiving the biggest-ever contract. Gordon Beckham getting traded for a player to be named later? Now that’s humbling. Carlos Rodón getting non-tendered? Super-humbling.
In most cases, I’d chalk this up to Benintendi attempting to express pride with a veneer of modesty, as most who misuse “humbling” do. Here, the idea of $75 million representing a record contract indicates that he signed with a humble franchise, so this is the time to cut him some slack.
As for Grifol, there was nothing humble about the adjectives he assigned to the Benintendi signing. He brought the effusiveness you’d usually see from the GM at such a press conference.
“He’s a very versatile player,” Grifol said. “As far as where we hit him in the lineup, he’s done everything in the game. He’s hit for average. He’s hit for some power. He definitely runs the bases well. He fits really well into what we’re trying to do here.
“He fits perfect. He fits perfect in this ballclub. He fits perfect in this park. He’s exactly what we were looking for this offseason.”
Benintendi’s fit in left field would seemingly confine Eloy Jiménez to DH duties, but Grifol wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jiménez should hang up his glove. He said he told Jiménez to continue to work on the outfield, and “to work some in right field as well.”
The first sentiment is understandable, because even if relieving Jiménez of his defensive duties is easier on everybody’s well being, he’s the best of a bunch of bad candidates should Benintendi miss time. As for the second part, here’s hoping that Oscar Colás or an addition to be named later makes that much, much harder to say with a straight face.
He is a pretty good fit. Almost an anagram for bien intended.
Can’t help noticing that a major league second baseman would also be a pretty good fit.
As would outfield, catching and SP depth.
Not a fan of Billy Hamilton and Lenyn I presume. I am almost certain the team is “on the table” already. I expect no further moves from the White Sox, but I could be wrong and with Hahn at the helm, I m unsure if that “could be wrong” is “unfortunately could be wrong” or not.
They are both OK depth pieces. The Sox should have competent, proven major leaguers starting at every position if they really want to win. Colas is invited to outplay the competent major league right fielder and force the Sox to open the season with him in RF – but they shouldn’t be crossing their fingers at 2 unproven positions when every other starter has to bounce back from underperformance, injury or both.
It’s really quite remarkable: there isn’t a single non-pitching position where they can say: just be as good as last year.
It’s pretty amazing that between TA, Moncada, Grandal, Eloy, and Robert, all of them either played barely 100 games, or less. The only healthy position player in 2021 and 2022 was Abreu, who is of course gone. At lease Benintendi projects to be healthy, even if he can’t replace Jose fully.
Yeah they can’t say “just be as good as last year” when 5 of their 9 position players missed more than 1/3 of the season. Madrigal incredibly missed more time than any of them, more like 2/3, which is why it would be a horrible idea to add him to their roster.
Eloy in right field, yikes! What’s the over/under on games played before injury?
It’s charming you think an over/under would require a full game. I’m going with 4 innings.
While I expect Eloy will play the field some, I think the RF comment was just a “be ready in case we need you there” type thing. But who knows with this org ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I don’t think he’ll play a lot out there, but Benintendi should be in LF every day, and I doubt Eloy is going to just DH every game, so he probably plays some RF this season.
Yeah. Maybe it’s not worth the risk, but it’d be nice if he could even play ~20-30 games in the OF. If he truly is DH only, he better really mash when he’s healthy.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that Eloy just turned 26. He should mash, and I think he will. If Eloy plays his cards right he could have 10 more years in baseball as a DH. I envision Eloy’s ceiling is JD Martinez who has produced 27 bWAR thus far.
Really interesting comparison. Eloy was 22 as a rookie, and JD was 23. For the years prior to their 26th birthday, here’s how they match up:
Eloy: 4 years, 316 games, 124 wRC+
JD: 3 years, 252 games, approx. 86-87 wRC+
It was only in his year 26 season, entering his prime years, that JD broke loose for a 154 wRC+, averaging a little over 151.5 wRC+ over the six years from ages 26-31.
Obviously, Eloy might not have quite the same level breakout, but their pre-age 26 seasons make me think Eloy has a higher ceiling than that — not to mention the 165 wRC+ that he put up in the 65 games in the second half of last year after he came back from injury.
I don’t think it works like that. JD clearly clicked into a different gear after the trade. He unlocked something that is abnormal. He’s not unique, but he is very close to unique. You can’t compare his pre-breakout track and try to draw comparisons about what another player may or may not do based on that. JD is a good model for Eloy and his performance is something to shoot for. But comparing their early careers doesn’t tell me anything about what Eloy could become because it’s extremely unlikely Eloy will tap into magic in that sort of way.
I’m not sure what you mean, you don’t think what works like what? We’re talking about ceilings, not predictions or expectations.
However, if you mean that you don’t think Eloy has a ceiling higher than JD’s, I disagree. Not only by comparison of the track record before age 26 (which is meaningful to tracking player potential in their prime years), but also — as I said — because Eloy hit for a wRC+ of 167 in the last chunk of games he played continuously last year (65 at the end of the season).
I think his ceiling … not expectations or predictions, to be clear … is absolutely as high as matching those 65 games at the end of last year (on average) over the course of his prime years. If you disagree, what do you think his ceiling is?
I’m happy to grant that Eloy’s ceiling is as-high, or higher, than JD’s. I was balking at your comparison pre-age 26, then suggesting conclusions based on that. For example, you said: “their pre-age 26 seasons make me think Eloy has a higher ceiling than that.”
When I said, “it doesn’t work like that,” that’s mostly what I was referring to. Drawing any inferences based on JD’s pre-breakout career seems like folly, to me.
In the context of “ceiling” conversations at least I think it does. I know many of the projection systems run through historical player comps for career trajectory in predicting player performance. Since “ceiling” doesn’t even go as far as predicting future performance, it seems fair enough to me to put his numbers against historically very good hitters (whose current + prior stats at least aren’t much better than Eloy’s) in saying his ceiling is as high or higher than Player X.
And I’ll put another one out there for fun: David Ortiz, who had his personal production boom once his age 27 season started.
This is survivor’s bias. If you want to compare Eloy to other player’s of a similar trajectory and look at the wide range of outcomes, sure. But for every JD or Ortiz, there are 50-100 middling DH types that don’t cut it in the Majors.
I’m not saying Eloy can’t be what those guys were. I’m just saying that comparing Eloy to JD’s pre-breakout career and saying, “hey, look, Eloy is even better!” doesn’t work.
Yes, but that has nothing to do with ceilings, does it?
If I were predicting or expecting, I’d certainly want to survey all examples of people that started with that level of production. If I’m trying to find the highest (ceiling), that doesn’t really matter.
The “Eloy is even better” part does a couple things: (1) it forecloses any kind of “well, the great hitters show it by now, so you can’t hope for greatness with Eloy” (again ceiling); (2) it does suggest that if he’s better at the same stage, there’s no inherent reason to think he won’t be better later on as well.
That alone wouldn’t be enough, I agree. If we were looking at someone with Madrigal’s body type, or without any apparent power, nobody would think that person had a ceiling that high. Same thing with showing 167 wRC+ over 65 games … with other players, that wouldn’t seem a quite as meaningful a gauge of what he’s capable of.
I’m not really sure what you’re arguing at this point. If you’re only saying “Eloy’s ceiling is peak-JD or higher,” then sure.
What doesn’t make sense is to compare a player to JD pre-breakout, determine he was x% better pre-breakout, then conclude that his upside is x% higher than JD’s upside (or any move that looks like this). That’d be like comparing Kopech and pre-breakout Rodón, then saying, “wow, Kopech was a lot more effective than pre-breakout Rodón, so his upside must be a lot higher than post-breakout Rodón!” And while we’re at it, Gavin Sheets’ numbers look better than pre-breakout JD, so he must have a higher upside, too? Just… no.
A good rule of thumb: for late-career breakouts that last, it’s probably best (for the purposes of comparison) to count the pre- and post- versions as separate players. Players like JD and Rodón—exceptional cases—don’t magically improve. They usually tap into something that wasn’t in use before and it transforms their game.
We finally agree on something. Yes it is folly to draw inferences based on JD’s pre-breakout career. Very well put. Eloy needs to start having healthy and fully productive seasons starting in 2023 to give him a baseline to compare to anybody.
JD would be a pretty good career for him to mimic. Very good hitter, he has had some injuries as well, which Eloy is probably never going to completely avoid. Ortiz was a hall of fame legend, an absolute monster. The odds are overwhelmingly against anybody being big Papi, much less someone who is a danger to himself and others every time he sets foot in the outfield, and who has missed more than 1/2 the past two seasons.
I really hope Eloy is finally healthy. But what would the over/under number of games have to be for him? It can’t be much higher than 110, if that, realistically. If he even gets 120 that would be a success – for him.
Inferences about what, how high someone’s ceiling is?
If so, why do you think it is totally irrelevant — as you must be saying, because otherwise you would be able to draw some sort of inferences. Again, minimal inferences that you can draw comparing the same early stages of the careers of two power hitters: (1) showing that Player B has produced at least as well as Player A through their age 25 seasons forecloses any argument that Player B’s to-date performance (which may not otherwise appear to be that good) means his ceiling is lower than Player A; (2) If Player B has been significantly better through the same period in their careers, there is no inherent reason why he should not have an even higher ceiling than Player A. That’s two inferences, and I expect there are more legitimate inferences you can draw than that.
So please let us know any specific reasons you have to disagree with the two inferences above.
As for the injury arguments, I’ve already said he should never set foot in the outfield, and should never run hard to first on an infield grounder. I have no idea if Grifol will make sure this happens, but if he does, I don’t see any reason to think Eloy is incapable of full seasons. The man is clumsy in the field and apparently prone to pulling muscles running out infield grounders, but he’s not made of papier mache. How many games has he lost in his first 4 years that were the result of other types of injuries?
In any event, “injuries” are not considered relevant to any player’s ceiling, since the whole point is trying to gauge their potential production at peak talent level with everything going well.
Eloy’s possible career could be all over the place. He might have a very good one like JD. Very possible. Or, another guy he reminds me of is Carlos Quentin. Career OPS of .831, but could never stay healthy. Identical career OPS to Eloy, coincidentally.
Nobody knows, and is an exercise in futility to try to predict with someone who has been hurt as much as he has. We can only hope that he’s much healthier from now on, and produces like he did in 2022 and not 2021.
I think you’re right that Eloy has deservedly earned the title “injury prone” at this point. Until I see it, I’ll never expect a full-season (say, 150+ games) out of him.
But… even granting that, I think 120-130 games is a realistic expectation, for two reasons. First, even though he’s clearly injury-prone, I think he’s gotten relatively unlucky with the severity of his injuries. Second, the move to full-time DH should help a lot. Aside from simply not being in the OF, it should also guard against wear and tear on the body. If I was opening a sports book, I’d put the O/U at 122.5. And I would absolutely take that right now.
We can only hope that Eloy’s career more closely matches JD than his career OPS twin Carlos Quentin. CQ was a very good hitter but did not have what could be called a great career, entirely due to health issues. Retired at 32.
I see 2023 as a make or break year for Eloy to determine his value. Nobody is worth that much if they can’t be counted on to play. He’s got to stay healthy enough to hit 30 homers, at least. I only hope he plays 10 games or less in the OF, that would certainly help his chances. If he gets hurt in the OF again, they are idiots.
There’s no doubt the potential is still there. But he also hasn’t gotten to that level yet. Steamer projects him to have a 133 wRC+, and that’s… fine? but not good for a full-time DH who has issues staying healthy.
Health is a key factor here. The move to full-time DH obviously raises the offensive bar for him to be valuable. I hope he can stay on the field more as DH, too, but I doubt he’ll ever be the iron man playing 150+ games per season. And if he’s going to miss 20-30 games/season, that raises the offensive bar even higher.
To be fair, JD didn’t play close to 150+ games per season (he hit 150 once, and went up to a career high of 158 in another year, and that’s it). A lot of other seasons in his prime years were anything from 119-120 to 146-148.
And as for the Steamer projection, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up in the range of 130 wRC+. I think my main reason for expecting more than that is that there was something different in his pre- and post-injury numbers from last year — he finally played more DH and got a long stretch of healthy games together.
Agree totally about health being a key factor. Maybe the key factor. I’m in the “no outfield ever and don’t run hard on infield grounders” camp. Everything possible to keep him healthy, and no defensive work. Would that work? I don’t know, but it’s not a horrible expectation if he’s almost never trying to sprint to catch a ball or beat out a throw.
JD didn’t play 150+ games, but I suspect that had more to do with playing in NL parks which didn’t, at the time, have the DH and not health. For his time in Boston, 139 was his low and 150 was his high. That’s very durable.
Even so, the point I’m trying to make is that health could be a factor even when Eloy is relatively healthy. Suppose he plays 130 games every year for the next 5. I think I’d take that right now. If he hikes that wRC+ and OPS into peak-JD range, then it’d certainly take it. 130 games is fine… if he’s mashing. But if he’s in the .850 OPS/130 wRC+ range, that becomes a lot more unacceptable for a DH-only player.
Hahn’s lesson for us all: the answers lie within. Think the Sox need a RF? The answer has been under our noses all along, and he wears number 74!
We may as well bring back Engel or get Duvall. At least you get some good defense for the pitching staff to platoon with or backup Colas and Robert
As much as I want more secure options for 4th OF, and I do want them to do better, I can’t help but think that Engel has upside. His two years in 2020 and 2021 were fantastic. Yes, small sample size of only 75 games total, but in that time he produced 2.4 fWAR and 2.2 bWAR, with a wRC+ of over 120, plus defense, and the ability to play all 3 OF spots. I mean, that’s all-star type production. At the time I thought he had finally managed to figure out how to hit in the majors, but then 2022.
Maybe he’s pissed that they didn’t tender him this year, but I would have much preferred him to Hamilton or Reyes.
Absolutely, B Baby. Engel is the perfect 4th OF…can play all 3 positions with a centerfielder’s skill…I believe he was a Gold Glove finalist when he got to play regularly…fast on bases…and not so bad at the plate when given more regular at-bats also. In hindsight, I also wanted to see Mendick kept as the IF version of Engel. Both are “ballplayers” and neither would cost much.
Bench of Zavala-Engel-Mendick-Sheets would have worked for me. I’m guessing Leury gets Mendick’s spot based on the contract
“knows the game”
Forget about the fact that other than being fast Engel did not do anything well on a baseball field. Can’t hit, bad baserunner, can’t bunt, middling arm, bad decision making, bad routes.
Yup. I am more than ready to close the Engel chapter. At this juncture, I think Hamilton offers more upside than Engel.
They guy who over the last four seasons has wRC+ of 49, 4, 63, and -41? Who over the same period produced a total of only 0.1 dWAR and 0.4 defensive fWAR? I fail to see the upside in him at this point.
Hamilton or Engel? These shouldn’t be the only options.
Agree, but if we need to choose one: Hamilton is a better use of money.
Yes, that’s why I said they should get someone else.
Don’t care about any of the descriptors. Do care that over the 2020 and 2021 seasons he hit hit for over 120 wRC+. Also plus baserunning and plus defense during that time. Don’t care about bunting.
Anyway, I don’t think they should sign him, except maybe a minor league contract. They should trade for Laureano, or sign Duvall or Profar, or similar. I do think that Engel showed more upside in those 2 years than Reyes or Hamilton likely have at this point.
Aaaand the Padres sign Engel to a major league contract.
Engle’s physical condition reminds me of Brett Lawrie. He looks like superman on the outside but something is busted on the inside. A healthy Engle on a cheap deal sounds good, but i think he’s finished.
If they don’t fill out the roster with the requisite blanks filled in, someone like Profar, then I wouldn’t mind seein Cespedes.
if he only plays once every two weeks like Engle, i can’t see him being worse. There’s no reason to keep him in the minors anymore, bring him up to see if he can fill the 4th OF role. No one expected anything out of Engle other than plus defense, he couldn’t hit anything early on and here he is 6 years later a real big leaguer.
if the FO is going to commit malpractice by intentionally shorting the roster ML talent, then might as well see if some of the fringe prospects can do anything.
I can’t wait to see the misspellings of Benintendi we’ll see over the next several years.
I will make a Hahnsian effort to try to not misspell Beninttendi’s name
For people familiar with video games: Be Nintendo, with an obvious i at the end instead of an o.
Why did they use Charlie Sheen instead of Benintendi for the picture?
Oh wow, I can’t unsee that.
Rick Hahn is crawling deeper and deeper into a shell.
I think he’s fossilized.
At Fangraphs, Esteban Rivera covers Benitendi’s apparent ability to tailor his batted ball profile to his home ballpark. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/andrew-benintendi-is-a-batted-ball-profile-chameleon/
Moustakas and La Stella both released today. Sox should have an announcement later.
Both cooked, especially Moustakas. Leblanc is much more interesting
I’m pretty sure he mentioned both with sarcasm. Someone else brought up Moustakas for 2b a while back as a suggestion, which was one of the worst ever on this site.
Lol yes I remember, I was right in there bullying that guy
Y’all are cool. I sure hope you don’t have kids to impart your beautiful wisdom on. Haha right there bullying that guy’s opinion. Wowsers how old are you all? Got that 10th grade mindset
I brought him up for RF, does that count?
The lack of whatever it may be – interest, excitement, optimism – around the Benintendi signing and the team in general right now means he may end up being one of the more satisfying FA acquisitions the Sox have had in recent memory even if he only hits his median projection.
Wow, Devers getting 300+M extension. Another great hitting 3b that will never play for the WSox. Of course in Jerry’s mind they are priced out of all good players, but still.
A shame that he wasn’t the higher ranked prospect compared to Moncada or the Sox could have asked for him in return for Sale instead, and surely could have gotten him. Everywhere had Moncada ranked the higher of the two. Who knew.
Since 2019 other than last year the two have been comparable, actually. Yoan is a much better fielder, Devers a much better hitter. All else equal I’d much rather have Devers since he wasn’t awful last year and the guy can rake, but his fielding is a real minus.
But point taken, the kinds of hitters that would get Sox fans excited are not coming here by FA, or trade. What a sorry, boring ass team.
Boy, you lot sure do spend a lot of energy looking at every move made this offseason a la “how can I make this into a point about how the White Sox suck?”
I don’t think it’s that much energy since it’s usually the same complaint: Command + C, Command + V.
Command?…is this an Apple thing?
Command is ambitious, most CHW pitchers are control over command at best anyways
Padres signed Wilmer Font to a minor league deal. Font drastically cut his walk rate, arguably his biggest problem, while pitching in Korea. He also increased his groundball rate, which could help his alarming HR/9. Will be interesting to see if he’s any good and if the White Sox should have considered him for pitching depth. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/01/padres-sign-wilmer-font-pitcher.html
Wow, can’t believe he’s just 32. I remember him as a prospect in the Rangers organization in the late 2000s.
White Sox don’t scout Asia.
As much as I love all the Benitendi articles and coverage, I really wish we would have had the same for Bryce Harper.
Benintendi is the perfect symbol for how Jerry forces Hahn to strive for mediocrity. At best. He will be an integral part in helping them finish 2nd or 3rd in the AL central.
Is, integral part, anything like, key cog?
I was originally going to use ‘key cog’ but thought ‘integral part’ might be easier for the layperson to understand.