Can Scott Kingery turn things around in his second year with the Phillies?
After a poor rookie season, can Scott Kingery turn things around and establish a role on the Phillies in his second year with the club?
Scott Kingery‘s career started off with plenty of fanfare. After an impressive spring training, he and the Phillies worked out a long-term contract, buying out his arbitration years. As soon as he put pen to paper, expectations were set high, and he failed to meet them.
Not only did Kingery fail to meet expectations, but he was also one of the worst offensive players in the league. His 62 wRC+ was the fifth-worst among all players with 400 or more plate appearances. He finished the year with a .226/.267/.338 line, 26.0% strikeout rate, 5.0% walk rate, eight home runs, and 35 runs batted in.
Kingery was thrown into the fire, becoming the starting shortstop early in the year as J.P. Crawford spent most of the season injured. This came despite Kingery being a shortstop for almost the entirety of his minor-league career. Unsurprisingly, he needed some work at the position with a .975 fielding percentage, -6 defensive runs saved, and a 0.0 ultimate zone rating.
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Kingery’s season prompted me to give him a failing grade for the year. There were few, if any, positives to take away from his season. I have advocated for him to return to Triple-A on multiple occasions. Alas, it does not appear likely that will happen given his contract.
After such a poor season, the only direction for Kingery seems to be up. This will likely have to come from the super utility role that he started the 2018 season with thanks to the addition of Jean Segura and Cesar Hernandez remaining a Phillie.
There’s an argument that Kingery’s offensive struggles could have stemmed from having to learn a new position.
One also could say that he simply wasn’t ready for the major leagues after such little time in Triple-A.
Regardless of why Kingery struggled, one thing is certain: he has to improve significantly in 2019. He is under team control potentially until 2026, and the front office would have serious egg on their face if they gave an extension to a player whose ceiling is a utility player.
Can Kingery improve? He certainly could. He has a full year of major-league experience and a full offseason to work on what he did wrong. Don’t expect him to become an All-Star overnight, but it’s hard to imagine him ranking among the worst hitters in the league yet again.