What should Phillies fans expect from Scott Kingery in 2021?

It wasn’t too long ago that Scott Kingery was a prized prospect in the Phillies’ farm system. Kingery was consistently ranking in the team’s top prospect rankings, as he was flourishing in the minor leagues. The former second-round draft pick batted .304 with 26 home runs, 65 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases last season in 132 games combined at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and Double-A Reading prior to making the MLB.

All of his success led him to signing a contract that could keep him on the team until 2026. This contract was the most guaranteed money ever for an amateur drafted player who has never played in the MLB. Despite the contract and his hype, we have not seen Kingery maintain success thus far in his major league career. In the big leagues so far, he’s served a super utility role while batting .233 in three seasons.

Kingery has shown the ebbs and flows of a streaky hitter. However, the only caveat is that there have definitely been more “ebbs.” After a putrid 2020 campaign, is he primed for a bounce-back year?

Reflecting on 2020

It is no secret that Scott Kingery had a 2020 season to forget. He was only able to play in 36 games, where he hit a mere .159 average. However, there is something that many fans may have not realized…

Kingery’s Fight With COVID

Scott Kingery had a COVID battle. If you read the interview in that linked article, you will see how tough Kingery has had it. And look, I’m not a scientist and this isn’t a debate on the implications of COVID. However, the fact of the matter is the 26-year-old was hit hard by this sickness. He describes how he “got chills so bad (he) couldn’t move without (his) whole body shaking.” To further this, Kingery mentioned how “I was so tired. Low energy. Fatigue. Then I experienced shortness of breath for a week. I felt like I laid on the couch for three weeks without moving. I was tired just going up the stairs.”

The virus took a toll on him. After speaking with some close friends who suffered from this virus as well, they mentioned that they felt similar to Kingery, and still find themselves feeling much more worn down than normal a month after their symptoms subsided. The important thing to remember here is that neither of my friends are professional athletes…

Imagine trying to play at the best of your ability when your body feels weak. Heck, I can barely eat an order of chicken tenders without feeling tired. Anyhow, this is completely uneducated speculation, but Kingery may have struggled because of some longer-term side effects of the virus and it’s forced recovery process. Hopefully, after a long offseason of recovery, he can return to his actual form.

Phillies’ Infield Debacle

As of now, the Phillies are still down one of their infield starters from 2020. Didi Gregorius is looking less and less likely to resign, leaving the shortstop position open. From the looks of it now, we may finally see Kingery have an everyday role at second base while Jean Segura shifts back to shortstop. However, Segura has seen his name fly around in some of the Phillies’ top trade rumors this offseason as well.

Let’s backtrack for a second. Kingery was stuck at shortstop for most of his rookie campaign-– a year where he batted a mere .226 with 126 strikeouts in 147 games. Despite many fans blaming Kingery’s batting inconsistencies on the lack of a stable position in 2019, he ironically enough had a better batting average. This may have been a coincidence, but Kingery’s position did not seem to matter. What Scott Kingery needs is to just play every day. Despite nearly playing the same number of games in the infield and outfield in 2019, the argument that Kingery improved as a player overall can be made.

Tying Things Together

As things stand right now, Kingery has a position in the infield. In fact, this position could be a consistent spot at second base- his true position. Many people will say that three seasons is where most players truly find their groove and the type of player that they are. Kingery, sitting at age 26, needs to hit his stride (and prime, for that matter) soon. With the experience under his belt and the everyday position potentially open, Kingery has a chance to find his identity. On the other side of that, fans will finally get to see what he is (or isn’t) made of.

If Kingery finds success under these circumstances, the Phillies may just have themselves one major key to a playoff run.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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