All eyes should be on Scott Kingery entering Phillies Spring Training
The year 2020 was a complete disaster for the Philadelphia Phillies. No other player felt the struggle more than Scott Kingery. Underperforming would be an understatement. Kingery finished the year batting .159 with 12 runs, 3 home runs, and 6 RBI.
I’m not one to make excuses for anyone. If you don’t play well, you need to be held accountable. However, I’m not ready to give up on Scott Kingery as being an important piece to the Phillies success in the future. Here’s why:
Scott Kingery battled COVID-19 the entire month of June. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports detailed Kingery’s experience. Even after being sick for 3+ weeks, Kingery could still not join the team at the start of the season because of failed test results. It would be hard to believe that he was able to properly prepare himself for the start of the season while missing close to 30 days dealing with COVID-19.
On top of that, Kingery struggled with his conditioning and breathing for weeks after returning and battled a shoulder injury which ultimately landed him on the injured list for the first half of September.
Kingery was one of the worst offensive players in Major League Baseball in 2020. The same goes for his rookie year in 2018. Last year, Kingery was productive, batting .258 with 19 home runs and 55 RBI. However, he batted just .230 after the All-Star break.
Much like myself, Joe Girardi is definitely a fan of Kingery and was extremely patient with him throughout the year. He had this to say before the final weekend wrapped up in Tampa Bay.
“Well, I think we expect him to be an everyday player going into next season,” manager Joe Girardi said of the organization’s outlook on Kingery moving forward. “He’s had a tough season with the COVID and then the shoulder and back that he had to deal with, so it’s been a trying year for him. But I would expect him to really have a bounce-back season next year.”
The Phillies infield is set for 2021. Joe Girardi recently stated that it will be Jean Segura’s spot to lose at second base. Kingery will likely be back-up in the infield but there’s still a chance for him to see increased paying time and possibly starting in centerfield on Opening Day.
- Catcher: JT Realmuto
- First Base: Rhys Hoskins
- Second Base: Jean Segura
- Shortstop: Didi Gregorius
- Third Base: Alec Bohm
The outfield, outside of Bryce Harper in right, will have plenty of competition as we enter Spring Training next week. Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery, and Roman Quinn will each be fighting for a starting position in centerfield. There’s also a chance that the Phillies could give Odubel Herrera another shot, although I have my doubts that will actually happen.
The way it’s currently shaping up for the Phillies is that Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery will be battling it out for the starting position in centerfield. Heading into Spring Training, it looks like it’s Haseley’s spot to lose.
Haseley was the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. His rookie season, Haseley slashed .266/.324/.396 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 67 games. Last year, Haseley slashed .278/.348/.342 zero home runs and 13 RBI. Haseley’s usage was definitely down from his rookie season and it’s thought that Phillies Manager Joe Girardi is operating under the assumption that Haseley struggles to hit against left handed pitching. You could easily argue, however, that Haseley was never really given the opportunity to hit against left handed pitching and has earned his opportunity. That’s an argument that you would likely win.
Haseley had 82 plate appearances vs right handed pitching in 2020 and slashed .261/.342/.319 with 11 RBI. Against left handed pitching, Haseley had only 10 plate appearances, slashing .400/.400/.500 with two RBI. The sample size is extremely small against left handed pitchers so it’s hard to come to any conclusions but simply looking at the numbers, there’s reason to be optimistic.
Given what we know about Girardi and how he’s utilized Haseley in year’s past, if Kingery comes out swinging in Spring Training, there’s a very strong possibility that he will get the nod for Opening Day in centerfield. Either way the cookie crumbles, Kingery is going to be important for the Phillies success this season by taking on a key bench role in the DH-less National League. Kingery could very well be the Phillies “catch-all” option on the bench, playing first, second, left field, and centerfield throughout the season.
Kingery is entering a make-or-break year for the Phillies and will have eyes on him all season long. Gregorius has returned on a two-year deal and the Phillies top prospect Bryson Stott awaiting his chance to play shortstop which will likely happen sometime in 2022 or at the very latest, 2023. Jean Segura is still under contract for the next two years and the Phillies haven’t had much success in using him as a trade option given the amount left on payroll. If Kingery plays well this year, he will be the answer to the Phillies centerfield hole, or at the very least, turn attention to trading Jean Segura’s hefty contract so he can slide back into his natural position at second base in the future.
Any way you cut it, Kingery will be entering a make-or-break season in 2021. Looking at his best year in 2019 where Kingery hit .258 with 19 home runs, 55 RBIs, and held a .788 OPS in 500 plate appearances, there’s plenty of reason to believe that there will be a return of Jetpax SZN in 2021. I’m not ready to say goodbye to #JetpaxSZN. Kingery, however, will need to prove everyone else wrong.
Stay tuned for Red October: A Phillies Podcast debuting soon on The Liberty Line.