As you all know, the Yankees haven’t had too many stellar at-bats in the last month or so. But the good thing about baseball is that even when a team struggles, it isn’t too hard to find the bright spots from one or two players. Despite the Yankees’ struggles, Andrew Benintendi has recovered from his slow start in pinstripes to put together some quality production as the team lifts itself out of an abysmal stretch of baseball.
It’s crucial that Benintendi adjusts his approach and swing to better suit Yankee Stadium. Our own Joshua Diemert wrote about that earlier this month. Benny’s long fly ball approach is not going to fit the Bronx like it did Kaufmann and Fenway. He has proven he is the type of hitter that can mold his approach in a short span, and this at-bat against Adam Cimber was a great step in the right direction for him. When you watch him over the next few weeks, pay attention to the pitches he attacks. He isn’t a pull hitter by any means. He never has been. But if he can begin to attack pitches and zones that his swing can elevate to the pull side, we will get a nice version of Benintendi that will help the Yankees during his tenure.
This is the exact type of pitch that he should be attacking! Even if it is slightly off the plate inside, it does not matter. He has a short swing, decelerates well, and has great pitch recognition. Combine those three factors, and you have yourself a hitter that can hit pitches off the plate, especially slow ones inside. When I’m playing MLB the Show, this is what I call a warning shot. Yeah, it’s a foul ball, but it was also crushed at 100 mph and traveled a long way away from home plate. Typically after a warning shot, it’s a sign to the pitcher to tread carefully and perhaps give the hitter a different look. Whatever you threw, he saw coming. Better to be safe than sorry in this high leverage scenario, right?
Uh. I guess not. Cimber clearly did not take the hint from Benintendi. Warning = do not throw the same exact pitch in an even worse location. If I could dream up the perfect pitch for Benintendi to yank over the right field wall, it would be a loopy right-handed breaking ball. Just think about it. He is capable of creating nice loft in his swing if given the time to do so.
As his bat path travels across the plate, and eventually out in front of it, it gains more and more lift. A right-handed slider is moving downward into the barrel of a left-handed hitter if it hangs perfectly like Cimber’s did here. Even if he is early and is timed up for a fastball, his barrel can still catch a breaker at the perfect time to lift it up and over the pull side wall. As I said earlier, Benintendi isn’t much a pull-side fly ball hitter, but when you zoom in on his batted balls hit to the pull side at more than a 10 degree launch angle, he has hit the most against breaking balls. Perhaps this swing against Cimber is a tip to him to be more aggressive on these pitches for the rest of the season.