Three KC Royals’ newcomers aren’t doing so well at the plate lately.
The questions were there before spring training even started. Could free agent signee Michael A. Taylor improve his career .237 average and .291 OBP? Could Andrew Benintendi, acquired via trade, recapture the form he had in 2018-2019 when he hit .271, then .290, averaged 18 home runs, and had OBPs of .352 and .366? And would Carlos Santana bounce back from his .199 2020 season?
Those were legitimate concerns considering the Royals brought Taylor, Benintendi and Santana aboard to play center, left, and first base, respectively, all unstable spots given the inability of anyone to claim center or first since the departures of Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer, and the vacancy Alex Gordon’s retirement created in left.
The concerns remain after the Toronto series. Collectively, Taylor, Benintendi and Santana were a disturbing 6-for-33 (.181); although Santana was 4-for-13, Taylor was hitless in nine at-bats, Benintendi 2-for-11.
Benintendi’s woes may be the most concerning. His .216/.286/.275 line isn’t what the Royals traded Franchy Cordero, Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later to get in a three-way deal with Boston and the Mets. He’s striking out too much (28.6 percent of the time) and doesn’t have a home run.
Taylor’s Cactus League hitting was excellent and he started the season well, carrying a .370/.393/.630 line into the current homestand. But because he hit safely in only one of the seven games since (.105), that slash plummeted to .261/.320/.413.
Santana’s .208 average is the worst of the three, but he leads the club in walks with 10 and his .339 OBP is certainly in the ballpark of what the Royals have in mind. He’s also second on the team in RBIs with nine.
It’s too early to hit the dugout panic button, but these three newcomers must get better at the plate.
Kansas City almost swept the Blue Jays. Salvador Perez led the way and the starting pitching was encouraging, but the bats of three KC Royals gave rise to some concern.