3 crucial questions the Phillies still need to answer

Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Kingery, Phillies
Scott Kingery #4 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

3. Will Scott Kingery get back on track for the Phillies?

Who is Scott Kingery for the Philadelphia Phillies? Remarkably, the team is further away from answering this today than they were on March 25, 2018, when they signed him to a six-year contract before he ever set foot on a major league diamond. Following a career-worst year in 2020, and competing for the center field job, 2021 will leave Kingery at a sort of crossroads in his career.

When he first came up to the major leagues, he was lauded for his versatility, speed on the basepaths, and ability to make contact at the plate. Three seasons and 1,023 at-bats into his career and it’s safe to say that Kingery has largely underwhelmed.

Throughout his three-year career, Kingery has frequently flashed the ability that made him one of Phillies’ top prospects and convinced them to lock him up before he ever saw a major league at-bat. Other times though he’s looked lost and has struggled to find a consistent position. He’s a natural middle infielder but has never been able to edge out the competition and become the unquestioned starter at either spot there.

Kingery tested positive for COVID-19 last summer and it likely contributed to what was easily the worst season of his major league career thus far. In 2020 he slashed .159/.228/.283 with just three home runs and 35 strikeouts in 113 at-bats to go along with a -0.8 WAR. He looked lost at the plate, struggling mightily against pretty much everyone.

Heading into spring training, Didi Gregorius is going to once again start at shortstop while manager Joe Girardi has already said publicly that Jean Segura has the “upper hand” at second base. This leaves Kingery competing for a starting role out in center field or continuing to act as a sort of super-utility player that can continue to play all over the diamond. Regardless of where he plays, Kingery can be valuable for the Phillies, but you have to believe they expected him to be more of a sure thing by now.

This coming season is going to be massively important for Kingery. Whichever way you slice it, Kingery is still a major asset to the Phillies. His defensive versatility and speed on the basepaths are indispensable. However, he needs to improve at the plate this season if he wants to continue to be part of Philadelphia’s long-term plans.

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