The trade to the Royals appears to have changed Andrew Benintendi’s career.
Benintendi came to Kansas City in 2021—the Royals bought low on the former prospective superstar hoping he’d rediscover his former glory and fill the void left by retired left fielder Alex Gordon. Perhaps the best foreshadowing of Benintendi’s future success was Kauffman Stadium itself, which doesn’t offer many easy home runs and, like Dodger Stadium, is made for contact hitters, not sluggers.
The only way for Benintendi to find success with the Royals was to get back to his roots, to focus once again on his excellent hit tool. No longer would he need to focus so much on launch angles or try to hit more home runs.
The results in his first season with Kansas City were telling. Benintendi’s walks were down (just a 6% walk rate), but so were the strikeouts. He fanned just 18% of the time and slashed .276/.324/.442. Of 46 extra-base hits, 27 were doubles as Benintendi posted a 106 wRC+. It was Benintendi’s best season since the 2018 World Series campaign.
What helped the change? Take a look:
The open stance is gone and with it the high leg kick. Kansas City may have changed Benintendi’s approach at the plate, but not Benintendi. He’ll still lift baseballs aplenty, but that won’t be his focus. He’s himself once again and it’s paying big dividends for everyone.