Phillies need to start Scott Kingery in Triple-A in 2019

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 4: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs home in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on July 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Orioles 4-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 4: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs home in the bottom of the fifth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park on July 4, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Orioles 4-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Scott Kingery has failed to show he can be a consistent major-league player this year. The Phillies are better off sending him to Triple-A next year.

Of all the Phillies that have been disappointing this season, none may be more disappointing than Scott Kingery. He was the No. 3 prospect in the organization and No. 30 in all of baseball coming into the season according to Baseball America. The team wanted Kingery in the majors so bad that they were willing to sign him to a contract through his arbitration years with three team options, keeping him in Philadelphia potentially through 2026.

With such a lucrative contract and high prospect status, expectations were high coming into the season for Kingery. Not only did Kingery fail to meet those expectations, he has been downright bad this season.

In 131 games this year, Kingery has a .228/.269/.337 line with seven home runs, 51 runs scored, and 33 runs batted in. In 442 plate appearances, he has drawn just 23 walks and struck out 112 strikeouts. Kingery has an OPS+ and wRC+ of just 61. Kingery has drawn 0-2 counts in 138 of his plate appearances, leading to 59 strikeouts while hitting just .207 after two straight strikes.

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The only bright spot for Kingery came at the beginning of the season. Through April 15, he had two home runs, 12 runs batted in, and a .855 OPS through 13 games. Since then, his OPS fell to .600 over the next month, and it has hovered around there since then.

Kingery is not just one of the worst hitters on the team (which is saying something), he ranks among the worst hitters in baseball.

Among qualified hitters, Kingery is 11th-worst in batting average, seventh-worst in walks per strikeout, fifth-worst in slugging percentage, and third-worst in on-base percentage, OPS, and wRC+.

Kingery has since his starting shortstop job to Asdrubal Cabrera, who was acquired at the trade deadline. However, Cabrera is a free agent after the season and its hard to envision a scenario where he returns.

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The big prize of the offseason will be Manny Machado, who will command hundreds of millions of dollars to sign. The Phillies will certainly be one of the teams pursuing him, and they have enough money to outbid any other teams for him. If he does sign here, that takes care of the shortstop position for the foreseeable future.

Even if Machado does not wind up in Philadelphia, Kingery has not earned a guaranteed roster spot next season. The team has shown they are willing to send players with a couple years of major-league experience back to the minors if they are struggling with Hector Neris and Aaron Altherr. Doing the same with Kingery will show that they jumped the gun signing him to a long-term extension.

Even so, it is more important that he regains what made him such a highly-touted prospect is paramount. The only way to do that is to have him start the year in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

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In the short-term, the Phillies could sign a stopgap shortstop or have J.P. Crawford man the position while Kingery figures things out in Triple-A. If they truly believe in Kingery as a long-term option, he can’t continue to struggle like this in the majors.

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