FAYETTEVILLE, AR – 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.