KC Royals: How Andrew Benintendi became himself again

(Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Andrew Benintendi
(Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports) /

Did changes Andrew Benintendi made precipitate his trade to the KC Royals?

After 2018, things changed for Benintendi. He started to swing for less average, looking instead for more power, an approach Boston manager Alex Cora openly criticized after the Sox shipped Benintendi to Kansas City.

This new approach flew in the face of everything that had made Benintendi successful to that point. But by focusing more on launch angles and trying to hit home runs, he took away from the best part of his game as a hitter.

Benintendi would never go on to hit more homers than he had in his first full big league season—he hit 20 in 2017, which still stands as his career-high. Benintendi actually slugged at a lower rate in 2019 before his slugging absolutely plummeted in 2020. In 2019, he had a .774 OPS, the lowest of his career to that point. His average plummeted to just .266, also the lowest mark of his career to that point. By focusing more on power and launch angle, Benintendi had lost what made him so dangerous at the plate: his ability to hit for average and be selective.

The struggles were even worse in 2020, although over a sample size of just 14 games. Benintendi suffered a rib injury which ended an already shortened season. He slashed just .103/.314/.128 with a 43 wRC+.

It seemed Benintendi’s status as a future superstar was becoming a distant memory.