Fantasy Baseball: Squinting to see Andrew Benintendi's true value

·3 min read

Not every fantasy story is going to be about flashy players and glittering headlines. Sometimes you have to write about the worker bees and the unsexy players.

Enter: Andrew Benintendi

I’m declaring yesterday to be Andrew Benintendi Day because he had what will likely be his best fantasy game of the year. Benintendi had two hits in the 6-2 win over the Angels, with a homer. He scored two runs, drove in two. He also stole a base.

Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) has fantasy value
Andrew Benintendi doesn't hit a lot of home runs, but this was one, and it definitely made a fantasy impact. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Benintendi providing category juice qualifies as news. It was his first steal of the year, and just his third homer. To this point, most of Benintendi’s fantasy value has come from his .298 average, though it hasn’t led to much run production. He’s scored 25 runs and knocked in 25 over 65 games.

Despite staying healthy all year, Benintendi is merely the OF58 to this point in banked 5x5 value. There’s some value there, but you have to squint to see it. (In one of my head-to-head hybrid leagues, where walks and strikeout avoidance have value, Benintendi jumps up to OF30. Say this for Benintendi, he controls the strike zone very well.)

When I was discussing a Mixed LABR trade with Joe Sheehan a few weeks back, I offered Joe a handful of outfielders. As an afterthought, I added he could also consider “Benintendi, the most boring fantasy player on the planet.”

The irony is that Benintendi was once a buzzy player and a glittering prospect. Before the 2017 season, he ranked top three on all the main prospect boards (with Baseball America and slotting him first). He produced a 20-20 season right out of the gate, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting. He posted a juicy .290/.366/.465 slash in his second year, with another 16 homers and 21 steals. Benintendi held a national reputation, tied to the Red Sox lineup and Boston’s regular contention. He won a ring with the Sox in 2018.

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Benintendi’s star fizzled in his final two Boston seasons. His OPS+ crashed to 99 in the 2019 season — basically, a league-average hitter — and he ran considerably less. He was hurt most of 2020. Last year he went to the Royals, profiling slightly better than league average (OPS+ of 105). His mojo might be cooked on the bases; he stole eight bags but was caught nine times.

Benintendi also won a Gold Glove in 2021, his first. And with that, we have an almost perfect player comp. We’re talking about a Kansas City left fielder, a former ballyhooed prospect, a good defensive player, a capable offensive guy without being a true star.

Voila. This is Alex Gordon, 2.0.

I’ll let you decide if that’s compliment or critique, feature or bug. (In the real world, it's probably feature; Benintendi's defense and plate discipline make him a regular name in trade rumors, not to mention his expiring contract.) In the meantime, I’m getting ready for another 4-0-1-0 line (maybe with a walk thrown in) from Benintendi on Tuesday night. He’s still a reasonable fantasy depth guy, of course. Not everyone can take over the world.

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