Has left fielder Andrew Benintendi regained his good form with the KC Royals?
One thing is abundantly clear when you watch Andrew Benintendi play baseball: he has so much left to give. The Royals got a great version of Benintendi last season when he posted a 106 wRC+, but don’t think a 6% better than league average major league hitter is the peak version of their left fielder. To find evidence of this fact, you don’t need to go any further than Kauffman Stadium during any Royals game this season. The version of the Royals’ star left fielder we see today arrived last season.
After hitting the disabled list with a rib injury last June, Benintendi missed nearly a month with the injury. He returned July 4 and hit close to what he had for the entire season to that point.
Soon thereafter, though, something changed. Beginning in August, he became the best version of himself at the plate we’ve seen. For the rest of the season, Benintendi slashed .300/.347/.483. He had 24 extra-base hits (17 doubles) in that span. He struck out just 15% of the time and averaged a 90 mph exit velocity (up from 85 mph in 2020).
After winning American League Player of the Week for the first week of September, Benintendi was named the Royals’ Player of the Month. He slashed .342/.398/.570; his September wRC+ was 160. Baseball’s former top prospect had finally landed among the best hitters in the major leagues, if only for a month.
From September until the end of the regular season, Benintendi ranked seventh in baseball in batting average, 10th in OBP, 13th in OPS, and 12th wRC+. Those numbers beg this question: can he repeat his 2021 season-ending performance this season?
In short, it has carried over, and then some. Through the first seven games of the season, he’s slashing .320/.393/440. That .320 is second only to Nicky Lopez’s .350 among Kansas City’s qualified hitters, he leads the Royals in RBIs, OBP and OPS, is tied for second in walks, and is second in SLG
Benintendi is himself again, restored to the hitter he was destined to become back when he was the top prospect in the game. Because he’s scheduled to become a free agent for the first time after this season ends, the Royals should hope to reach an agreement on an extension with him sometime soon.
Hopefully, a deal can be reached to keep Benintendi in Kansas City for a long time. Even if that doesn’t happen, one thing is already certain—after unlocking the present version of Andrew Benintendi, there’s no way the Royals will be losers of the trade that brought him to Kansas City.
Andrew Benintendi seems to be Andrew Benintendi again.