Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.
After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.
Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.
In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.
As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.
But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.
Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.
Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.
Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.
At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.
Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”
Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.
Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.
The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.
The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.
In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.
Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).
(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)