FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In the midst of the greatest season in Arkansas baseball history, sophomore outfielder Andrew Benintendi has been named the National Player of the Year as announced by Collegiate Baseball Thursday morning.
Benintendi becomes the first Razorback in program history to earn National Player of the Year honors and the 14th player in the history of the SEC to garner NCAA Player of the Year accolades.
The Cincinnati native is on the brink of becoming the third player in SEC history to lead the league in home runs and batting average, currently holding a two-homer lead and 16-point edge in batting average. Benintendi would join Rafael Palmeiro (Miss State in ‘84) and Jeff Abbott (UK in ‘94) as the only players in conference history to accomplish the feat.
The sophomore is one of two players in the country to rank in the top 15 in home runs and batting average and one of two individuals in the nation with 15-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases.
In the best baseball conference in America, Benintendi leads the SEC in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage and walks, and is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 25 nationally in every category.
Benintendi joins SEC legends Magadan, Price, Will Clark (1985), Derick Lilliquist (1987), Ben McDonald (1989), Lloyd Peever (1992), Todd Helton (1995), Tim Hudson (1997), Brad Wilkerson (1998), Eddy Furniss (1998), Kip Bouknight (2000), Mike Zunino (2012) and AJ Reed (2014) as national players of the year in the conference.
Projected as a top 10 pick in next month’s Major League Baseball Draft by MLB senior writer Jim Callis, Benintendi would become seventh first round pick in program history and the first since Ryne Stanek in 2013. Only two Razorbacks have ever been selected in the top 20 picks of the MLB Draft, as Jeff King was taken No. 1 overall by the Pirates in 1986 and Kevin McReynolds went sixth overall to the Padres in 1981.
On the eve of the opening day of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Benintendi has the highest slugging percentage (.738) of any player in the field, while his .391 batting average is the second-highest among hitters appearing in NCAA Regionals.
• Is the first National Player of the Year in program history.
• Is the first Arkansas athlete in baseball, football and men’s basketball to garner National Player of the Year honors.
• Is the first SEC Player of the Year in program history.
• Is the first Razorback to win a major SEC award since Nick Schmidt won Pitcher of the Year in 2006.
• Is the first player in school history with at least 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season.
• Only player in the SEC to rank in the top 25 nationally in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage and on base percentage.
• On pace to become first player in SEC history to win the batting title, home run title and Player of the Year.
• On pace to become the third player in SEC history to finish the year as the league leader in home runs and batting average.
• Is one of only two players in the country with 15-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases.
• Currently leads the SEC in batting average, home runs, slugging percentage, on base percentage and walks.
• Is eight RBI’s shy of becoming the second Triple Crown winner in SEC history.
• Leads all sophomores in the country in batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.
• Is third in the country with 18 home runs on the year.
• Is third the country with a .738 slugging percentage (Highest of any player in NCAA Tournament).
• Ranks eighth in the SEC with 52 RBI on the year (Eight behind leader).
• Had a span of four home runs in six plate appearances against Mississippi Valley State and Kentucky.
• Leads the SEC with a .492 on base percentage (Third highest of any player in NCAA Tournament).
• Leads the SEC with a .391 batting average (Second highest of any player in NCAA Tournament).
• His .391 batting average would be the highest at Arkansas since 2010, when Zack Cox set the school record at .429.
• Is second in the SEC with 149 total bases (Six behind the leader).
• Tied for fifth in the SEC with 22 stolen bases on the year.
• Tied for fourth in the SEC with 54 runs scored.
On The Horizon
• Named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist
• One of 35 semifinalists for Dick Howser Trophy