Andrew Benintendi – 2022 Fantasy Outlook

Even after one season it seems strange to think about Andrew Benintendi as a Kansas City Royal, but here we are.

In NFBC 15-team drafts, Benintendi is currently coming off the board around pick 203 (13th – 14th round). Or the 7th Royal, not that it matters in our fantasy baseball game. But, it somehow takes some shine off the outfielder in my eyes (not really, but I was still a bit surprised by that nugget of info). Trivia time: name the six Royals going ahead of him. Rest of this post will wait…

Benintendi’s brief 2020 season was something to forget, which fantasy baseball drafters failed to do last draft season as they drafted him in the 16th/17th round. That’s quite the discount from 2019, but early 2022 drafts seemed to have corrected.

Benintendi looked very much like the same player in 2021 as in 2019, but seems to have dropped off from his early career production. The one concerning trend from 2019 to 2021 is plate discipline (lower walk rate, higher strikeout rate, higher chase rate). Still, 2019/2021 Benintendi is a solid player in both real-life and fantasy. Steamer projections currently have him down for a 17 HR / 12 SB season with a solid .263 batting average. That’s the markings of a player who will not win you a league but will keep things steady as a 3rd-5th outfielder.

The 17 home runs projection is identical to his output last season. I want to be optimistic that there’s more production coming given his 2021 xHR was 26. However, Kaufman Stadium is terribly unkind to left-handed power: 3rd worst park factor for left-handed HR production, but 10th best park factor for left-handed hitting generally.

Injury History

Benintendi had been consistently healthy until the 2020 season when he strained a rib cage muscle, which cost him around seven weeks. He then had a similar injury last year which cost him three weeks. It’s also possible some of his poor mid-season production could be attributed to the injury.

I’m not sure if rib injuries become chronic, and as such, should pencil Benintendi in for 3-6 weeks of lost time each season. However, I am personally adjusting my expectations to be closer to 550 plate appearances than 600-625.

Stolen Bases

Benintendi’s draft value stems from his contributions across the board. He doesn’t excel at anything, but contributes to each stat. This makes his stolen base performance in 2021 problematic. Steamer (and other) projections are assuming he will hit the 10+ threshold for stolen bases.

Last season, though, he did not reach that mark. His Speed scores seem fine. Two things stand out:

  1. He was caught stealing more often than he was successful (i.e., success rate <50%).
  2. He only had one stolen base in the second half, compared to seven stolen bases in the first half

Looking into the second item, here is the trend across months:

Month Stolen Bases Caught Stealing
March/April 4 3
May 2 2
June 1 1
July 0 1
August 1 1
September/October 0 1

Benintendi went on the injured list June 14, 2021, which could explain the drop-off stolen bases. Assuming he is healthy, then the stolen bases should be there in 2021. If the Royals are ok with ~50% success rate again. Note: 2017-2019 success rates were 80%, 87%, and 77%.

Player Comparisons

I’m using Steamer projections (as of ~November 24th) to create the comparisons. These are all players with between 13-21 home runs and between 10-19 stolen bases.

Player Name Plate Appearances Home Runs Stolen Bases Batting Average Runs RBI NFBC Average Pick
Trent Grisham 574 20 14 0.246 69 69 125.3
Robbie Grossman 620 17 15 0.239 77 62 161.4
Andrew Benintendi 557 17 12 0.263 68 68 203.7
Ramon Laureano 554 21 13 0.246 69 67 227.1
Harrison Bader 544 19 12 0.248 60 65 265.6
Tommy Pham 555 18 15 0.258 73 63 275.9
Lane Thomas 476 16 11 0.243 64 49 283.3
Brandon Nimmo 663 18 10 0.26 96 61 293.9
Rafael Ortega 522 14 16 0.25 66 48 300.5
Dylan Moore 438 13 19 0.207 47 45 379.8
Michael A. Taylor 494 13 11 0.241 52 53 401.4
Jake Fraley 425 13 12 0.228 47 46 516.7

Several questions pop out here and give some direction for future player analysis: why is Trent Grisham going so high, should Benintendi be drafted higher than Grossman who needs 600+ plate appearances, is Pham worth picking this year, how about Nimmo?

One clear thing stands out: Benintendi’s batting average helps set him apart from the 15/15 range players.

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