Andrew Benintendi is just 22 years old and has already shown that he belongs with some of Major League Baseball’s better hitters. He has just 195 career plate appearances, but he’s hitting a very impressive .297/.366/.448 so far in his young career. That’s a batting line that is 21% better than league average (121 wRC+). His patience, combined with his ability to put the bat on the ball, leads one to believe that this is sustainable.
So far in 2017, Benintendi has a walk rate of 9.1% and a strikeout rate of just 13%. His O-Swing% and overall Swing% are both above average at 27% and 42.5%, respectively. He also rarely swings and misses. Of 190 qualified hitters in 2017, Benintendi has the 18th lowest swinging-strike rate, at 5.5%. I think it’s safe to say that even at such a young age, Benintendi has a good idea of where the strike zone is. His numbers in 2017 are very good, with a line of .299/.377/.403, but they could probably be much better if he wasn’t so heavily penalized for the “lefty strike.”
So far this year, 135 left-handed hitters have seen at least 100 pitches. According to Baseball Savant, of those 135, Benintendi has seen the most called strikes that were off the plate away, with 22. To visualize, here is a strike-zone plot that includes every single called strike on Benintendi this year.
As you can see, a large amount of called strikes on Benintendi have either been up and away, away, or down and away.
Most of these calls have come in an 0-0 count as well. In the same sample of left-handed hitters, Benintendi has seen the most 0-0 called strikes that were off the outside part of the plate, with 12. An astounding 4.1% of all the pitches he has seen this season have been 0-0 called strikes that were off the outer part of the plate, which also leads that 135-player sample. There is only one other player above 4% and just 10 other players above 3%. Here is a visual of the called strikes Benintendi has seen with an 0-0 count.
Benintendi has been put into an 0-1 hole on pitches that are off the plate away more often than any other left-handed hitter that has seen 100 or more pitches. Starting off an at-bat with an 0-1 count is much different than starting with a 1-0 count. It’s only April 23, but this could be something to keep an eye on moving forward. If these strike calls begin to even out, and Benintendi has more calls go his way, his already impressive numbers may start to look even more impressive.