Phillies 2019 season preview: Infielder Scott Kingery

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PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies on his toes in the infield during the Spring Training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on February 22, 2019 in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies on his toes in the infield during the Spring Training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on February 22, 2019 in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /
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Phillies
PORT CHARLOTTE, FL – FEBRUARY 22: Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies makes some contact at the plate during the Spring Training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park on February 22, 2019 in Port Charlotte, Florida. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /

Scott Kingery struggled immensely as a rookie after signing his pre-debut contract. Can he turn things around and contribute to the Phillies playoff run?

Scott Kingery excelled in the minors in 2017, slashing .304/.359/.530 with 26 home runs, 65 runs batted in, and 29 stolen bases in 132 games between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies felt confident enough in Kingery’s abilities to offer him a six-year contract extension, buying out his arbitration years. Early returns from that contract have been less than ideal.

Kingery started off the year in a super-utility role but quickly became the starting shortstop as injuries kept J.P. Crawford out of the lineup. In 147 games and 484 plate appearances, Kingery slashed just .226/.267/.338 with eight home runs, 55 runs scored, and 35 runs batted in.

Kingery’s struggles were rooted in his plate discipline with a 5.0% walk rate and a 26.0% strikeout rate. His walk-to-strikeout ratio of 0.19 was eighth-worst among batters with 450 or more plate appearances. Kingery faced an 0-2 count in 154 of his 484 plate appearances (31.8%), the third-most 0-2 counts faced of all batters.

Among batters with 450 or more plate appearances, Kingery had the fourth-worst wRC+ and OPS. He ranked 13th-worst in Fangraphs wins above replacement. Kingery’s -1.4 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement was worst on the team and fourth-worst among all hitters.

Kingery’s defense progressed as the season went along, but it still wasn’t great with a .975 fielding percentage, -6 defensive runs saved, and a 0.0 ultimate zone rating in 887 innings at shortstop.

Kingery’s struggles motivated the team to acquire Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mets at the trade deadline, but he didn’t provide that much of an upgrade. Cabrera is gone but Kingery remains. Can he find a way to contribute to the team in 2019?

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