KC Royals: The best and worst 2021 roster additions

(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images) /
4 of 4
KC Royals
(Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

A pair of KC Royals newcomers earn the club’s highest 50-game grades.

The top grades for Kansas City roster additions go to Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi.

Finally stabilizing the first base position the Royals hadn’t been able to adequately fill since Eric Hosmer left after 2017 earns Carlos Santana an A. He’s delivered just what the club gave him a two-year contract to: a potent package of power, RBIs, the ability to reach base consistently, and good defense.

Through Saturday’s 50th game, Santana’s .250 average is actually better than his career .248 mark. Much more important, though, are his team-best 34 RBIs, the 10-home runs that tie him with Salvador Perez for the club lead, and his excellent .381 OBP. Proof that he’s hitting in the clutch includes his .283 average with runners in scoring position and the walk-off home run he hit against Detroit a week ago:

And he’s played almost flawless defense.

The KC Royals found a man from Boston to take over left field in 2021.

From the moment Alex Gordon announced his retirement with less than a week of the 2020 season remaining, the Royals knew replacing him wouldn’t be easy. And it wasn’t—not until KC packaged Franchy Cordero, Khalil Lee, and two players to be named later in a three-team deal in February did the club have its man, and the new lefthanded bat General Manager Dayton Moore searched for all winter. Benintendi brought speed, power, and good defense to the Royal outfield.

Related Story. Search for lefty bat finally ends. light

But Benintendi was an April disappointment. His .225 average and one homer led many to question whether his .266 2019 average, and the .103 he struggled to in an injury-ridden 2020 campaign, were simply outliers for the career .273 hitter with a .353 OBP and three double-digit home run seasons, or the results of his efforts to get stronger after the 2018 campaign.

Fortunately, Benintendi has recovered from April. He’s hitting .333 this month and .282 for the season, and his .346 season OBP is 35 points higher than his April-ending mark. He has 20 hits in his last 20 games.

Benintendi overcame a slow start to reinforce the confidence the Royals have in him. He’s proving he can do what the club needs from its left fielder and has earned his A.

Next. George Brett's final games. dark

Through the KC Royals’ first 50 games, Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi grade out as the club’s top newcomers.