Despite what the great Bill James thinks, Andrew Benintendi is having a great season. In fact, the Royals starting left fielder and All-Star representative is having a career year, posting career bests in OPS+ (124) and wRC+ (127).
That’s all great for Benintendi, and as Royals fans and all other baseball fans found out before Kansas City had to travel into Canada to take on the Blue Jays, that’s all that matters to him.
He just thinks about himself.
Benintendi is one of ten Royals who couldn’t travel to Toronto due to Canada’s Covid-19 restrictions. The others are Whit Merrifield, Brady Singer, Brad Keller, M.J. Melendez, Kyle Isbel, Hunter Dozier, Michael A. Taylor, Dylan Coleman, and Cam Gallagher. All ten were placed on the restricted list and missed payments for missing the games.
Andrew Benintendi provided a statement: "For me, it was a personal decision. And I'm going to leave it at that."— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) July 13, 2022
But only Benintendi will be representing the Royals at Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
And that’s quite the shame.
Would that they could, I’d love to see the Royals players choose a different representative for the 92nd Summer Classic. Benintendi wasn’t selected by the fans to be a starter in the All-Star Game, so it came down to a player vote with the Commissioner’s office having the final say to make sure that each of the 30 organizations has one representative.
Going forward, that “player vote” should be down to individual teams to determine who gets sent. Had that been the case, maybe we wouldn’t be in the current situation where a selfish player is the team’s rep. While we fans just now learned of Benintendi’s situation, surely his teammates already knew about it. Surely they knew he’d abandon them when it came to facing the Blue Jays.
Why would a team vote to send such a player as their collective face?
It also makes sense that any team should have the option to choose an alternative All-Star. That decision doesn’t have to be made publicly, of course, to spare the player’s reputation—you know, just in case he’s in a contract year.
Even now, the Royals should have the option to send someone else, someone who puts the team ahead of himself, someone like rookie shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who, as of this writing, leads the team in triples (five), home runs (13), RBIs (46), stolen bases (17), slugging (.458), and total bases (151) while tied for lead in doubles (18) and has an OPS (.758) that is 11% above league-average.
Oh, and he didn’t bail on his team when they had to cross borders.
But hey, for Benintendi, “...it was a personal decision.” I look forward to seeing him promote the right for everyone to make personal decisions.
Not too long ago, Royals Review profiled Benintendi as a trade candidate, and then I wrote a piece about how he, among others, would fit with the Cardinals. Later, I considered arguing that instead of trading him, the Royals should sign him to a long-term deal. He’s a veteran who’s posted worthwhile numbers during his career, plus he’s been on winning teams before from his days in Boston.
Well, never mind. His days in Kansas City are dwindling. Good riddance.
The Royals, and their fans, deserve a better All-Star.
And I’m going to leave it at that.