Andrew Benintendi had one heck of a season for the Boston Red Sox in 2018, but looked drastically different the following season.
Benintendi always will be remembered for his game-saving catch in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, yes, but the left fielder struggled at the plate in 2019 as he batted .266 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. He also struck out a career-high 140 times.
Benintendi was limited to just 14 games in 2020 before being shut down with a rib injury before the Red Sox traded Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in February.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti on “The Baseball Hour” podcast and was asked about Benintendi, and more specifically what changed between his strong 2018 season and his down 2019 campaign.
“There was nothing wrong with the player we had in 2018. Nothing wrong. We talked to him about it and I mentioned it to him in offseason when we decided he was going to be the leadoff guy,” Cora told Massarotti. “We were just trying to put Mookie (Betts) in a better position to drive in runs, and I felt like the Andrew Benintendi we have in 2018 … was the perfect leadoff guy for that lineup in 2019. Benny made a decision over the winter to get stronger, and he did get stronger … he actually got stronger, he gained some weight, and in between Oct. 28, 2018, when we won the World Series to April 1 of the next year, sometime there, I don’t know if it was him or his agent, it wasn’t the organization, decided ‘You know what, you need to hit home runs.’
“You could see the swing, you could see the moves, it was a different player. It’s not that he’s slow, it was a different body. His move became slower to the baseball. He wasn’t getting on top of the ball, he was trying to hit fly balls. If Benny wants to he can hit 30 home runs, but he will suffer and we saw it. There was a lot of swing and misses. He became pull-happy.”
It was obvious Benintendi wasn’t the same hitter in 2019 and even the small sample size fans saw in 2020. But he’s getting a fresh start with the Royals, and will try to go back to what he once was.