After he signed the biggest contract extension for someone who had never played a major league game in MLB history, there were some lofty expectations laid out for Scott Kingery in 2018. Unfortunately, he was unable to meet those expectations in his first season. Outside of some bright moments that came few and far between, Kingery struggled mightily in his rookie season and finished as one of the worst qualified hitters in baseball.
However, in 2019, things were different for Kingery. He was not in the starting lineup on Opening Day, and did not become an everyday player until mid-May (partially due to a stint on the injured list). But Kingery caught fire in June, and while he still did face some struggles at points in the season, it became clear that he had taken a step forward at the plate while remaining versatile in the field.
Here are three numbers to remember from Kingery’s encouraging 2019 season:
57 – Extra-Base Hits
During his short time in the minors, Kingery flashed some major pop. In 2017, he slugged 26 home runs between Reading and Lehigh Valley, and it looked to be a tool that could transfer to the majors. However, in 2018, Kingery was just no match for major league pitching, and it was not clear what kind of hitter he could be long term.
Kingery put a lot of doubt to rest in 2019, with a .474 slugging percentage that exceeded his 2018 total by nearly 140 points. While he is unlikely to ever be a great on-base percentage player, Kingery’s pop will help him to be a key piece on this Phillies team moving forward.
29.4% – Strikeout Percentage
Kingery took a step forward at the plate in 2019, but there are still some concerns regarding his approach at the plate. He has always been prone to chase pitches outside of the zone, and while he improved marginally in that regard in 2019, he still was one of the easiest players in baseball to strike out.
The fact that Kingery was able to have a solid season at the plate despite the strikeouts show how good he can be when he makes contact. The next step for him will be figuring out how to cut down the strikeout percentage, which right now is the biggest glaring hole in his game.
Six – Positions Played
There are definitely some questions about how Kingery projects long term as a hitter. How much of his success in 2019 was due to the juiced ball? Can he sustain that production if he is unable to improve his approach and strikeout percentage? But even though these questions remain, Kingery is a valuable asset for the Phillies because of his positional versatility.
In his briefcareer, Kingery has spent less time at his natural position, second base, than he has at third base, shortstop, and center field. While some question whether this is the best for Kingery’s development, it is easy to see how he has progressed at all of the positions since he came up to the majors. His versatility only increases his value and gives the Phillies optionality when deciding what moves to make in free agency or on the trade market.
At one point during the offseason, Matt Klentak praised Kingery for his ability to play virtually anywhere on the field and said he might be the most valuable player on the roster because of it. He will likely be starting the 2020 season as the starting third baseman, but he could end up elsewhere on the diamond when Alec Bohm is called up.
He wasn’t perfect in 2019, but Kingery improved greatly on his horrid rookie season and gave the Phillies reason to be optimistic about the 6-year/ $24 million extension they gave him prior to 2018.
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