The 2021 campaign has been a rollercoaster for the Kansas City Royals. The same can be said about their starting left fielder, Andrew Benintendi.
Acquired via trade from the Boston Red Sox in February, Benintendi has put up slightly underwhelming numbers this season for the Royals. In 109 games, the 27-year-old is posting a .254/.300/.403 line, good for a .703 OPS and 0.9 WAR. He's also hit 12 home runs and collected eight stolen bases while being roughly a neutral defender. Benintendi has experienced plenty of highs and lows this year, and another high point came on Monday.
In the Royals' series-opening 3-2 win over the lowly Baltimore Orioles, Benintendi saved a home run in the ninth inning and also drove in the game-winning run. He went 2-for-3 at the plate, in addition to recording a walk. Unfortunately, this performance made for just two out of six September contests in which he's managed to record a hit. Benintendi spoke about his tumultuous season after the Labor Day outing.
"Frustrating, honestly," Benintendi said. "It's been an up-and-down year. It seems like every time I kind of get things going with the bat, I broke a rib and then messed up my shoulder. You know, it's a grind. Obviously, you go up there trying to get a hit every single time and it's not going to happen. You can do everything right and you still are out. I feel like I've hit into a lot of hard outs this year which is unfortunate, but it's part of it."
Benintendi summed up his 2021 perfectly by saying up-and-down. In April, he kicked off his season by posting just a .624 OPS. He then followed that up by putting up OPS numbers of .821 and .930 in May and June. In July and August, those figures were .569 and .647, respectively. Benintendi knows how difficult it is to establish a rhythm in-season, let alone while battling back from things like broken ribs and bothersome shoulder ailments. He isn't satisfied and with that said, he's focused on improving.
"All you can do, I guess, is keep your head down and keep working," Benintendi said. "Hopefully, the numbers will come up a little bit, but it is what it is. The preparation and everything like that is the same. It's a result-based game and obviously, it would be nice to see some more, but it is what it is."
Luckily for Benintendi, the Royals are facing one of the worst teams in baseball over the next three days and he's been a much better performer when on the road (.275/.321/.455) than at home (.231/.274/.353) this season. For both him and the team, the hope is that he can get back on track to finish out 2021 and build a solid foundation for his second year as a Royal in 2022. Benintendi has made one thing very clear throughout this process: He's willing to keep pushing.