Reds fan favorite gets bullish ranking on MLB Network analyst's right field ranking

How good is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Will Benson?

Cincinnati Reds Will Benson (30) returns to the dugout
Cincinnati Reds Will Benson (30) returns to the dugout / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Brian Kenny believes in Will Benson. In fact, the MLB Network analyst thinks so highly of the Cincinnati Reds outfielder, that he slotted Benson ahead of Adolis Garcia, Anthony Santander, and Fernando Tatis Jr. in his preseason right field rankings.

Kenny called Benson his "wild card", and rated the 25-year-old No. 5 among all the right fielders in the league. The only players who BK views in a better light than Benson are Juan Soto, Kyle Tucker, Corbin Carroll, and Ronald Acuña Jr. That's some rarified air.

While some may disagree with Kenny's assessment, there's every reason to believe that Benson could certainly ascend the ladder this season. After several years in the minor leagues, and even a trip back to Triple-A in 2023, Benson broke out in a big way over the second-half of last season.

Reds fan favorite gets bullish ranking from MLB Network analyst

Will Benson has all the physical gifts to become one of the best right fielders in the game. Benson has a mix of power and speed that very few players possess. At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, Benson has the type of frame that screams 30-plus home runs. And playing half of his games at Great American Ball Park could make that number go even higher.

And yet, Benson was oftentimes the No. 8 or 9 hitter in the Reds lineup a year ago. In fewer than 300 at-bats, Benson hit .275/.365/.498 and posted a wRC+ of 128 according to FanGraphs. While Benson is dangerous in the batters' box, he has the wheels to be a difference-maker on the base paths as well. According to Baseball Savant, Benson ranked among the 88th percentile in sprint speed and stole 19 bases in 2023.

MLB Network's ranking will be proven true if two things happen in 2024. First, Benson has to cut down on his strikeouts. The outfielder struck out over 30-percent of the time in 2023. And second, he needs to find success against left-handed pitching. Last season, he hit just .146 off southpaws. While he was only given 44 opportunities, Benson failed to make the most of them.

Though Brian Kenny's rankings are a bit bullish, they're not outlandish. Opposing fanbases my disagree, but Reds fans saw what Benson was made of in 2023 and have big expectations for their right fielder during the upcoming season.

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