Once upon a time in a Phillies’ farm system not too long ago, sat their #3 prospect Scott Kingery. The year was 2017. Kingery was listed higher than any other 2nd base prospect. MLB.com had him as their number 50 overall prospect.
After a torrid year in the minors, the Phillies put Kingery on their opening day roster after signing him to a 6-year $24 million deal, the largest of its kind by the Phillies for a player who hadn’t played in the majors.
Kingery’s Up and Down Career
Things didn’t exactly go to plan in 2018 as Kingery was one of the worst players in the majors. He had a .605 OPS and a -1 bWAR. Something seemed to change at the start of 2019.
In Kingery’s first 47 games, he was slashing .331/.376/.630 with 10 homers and 14 doubles. He had a legitimate shot at making an appearance at that year’s All-Star Game. Things went decidedly downhill from that point on. In his last 79 games, he’d hit only .221. He’d finish with a .788 OPS, a drop of 218 points from after his 47th game.
While it was a rough end, Kingery’s 2.8 bWAR was an encouraging sign for what was to come in 2020. And then Kingery showed up to Spring Training looking like this.
Scott Kingery looked like he was worthy to wield Mjölnir (Thor’s Hammer). He had hit 19 homers in 2019. Kingery came in looking like he’d hit 47 in 2020, but everything changed when the COVID-19 virus attacked.
Spring Training was cut short. Players were sent home. Everything shut down. Worst of all, Kingery caught the disease.
“It was very difficult for me to breathe.” “I think that’s partially due to the fact that the shortness of breath is still kind of lingering.”Scott Kingery- Todd Zoleki July 11, 2020
COVID-19 affected Kingery’s play, but we don’t know to what extent. First-year hitting coach Joe Dillon did shed a little light on the true impact on Kingery.
“The guy in spring training and the guy that showed up for spring training 2.0, it was two different guys physically.”Joe Dillon- Scott Lauber December 6, 2020
In the 2020 season, Kingery hit .159. He had the 9th lowest fWAR in the major (-0.6). He was also tied for 4th lowest in wRC+ with 37. Weighted Runs Created+ is a metric that summarizes a player’s overall run production.
What Can We See in 2021?
Let’s throw out 2020. COVID seemed to affect Kingery harder than he let on. The question becomes, what do the Phillies do with Kingery?
His end to the 2019 campaign is probably more concerning than his 2020 performance. 2021 should be Kingery’s last chance at a starting role, but where should that be? He showed a ton of potential as a centerfielder. Both his speed and range made him a fit.
Naturally, Kingery is a second baseman and he’s shown great things at second. Centerfield is more of a premium position than second base. On the surface, a team would rather have a good CF and a good 2B.
These debates all depend on Kingery hitting. He needs to perform as he did in 2019 when he had a .788 OPS. A .605 or under OPS is unacceptable (what he’s done his other 2 seasons). Let’s hope Kingery can put COVID and 2020 behind him and resurrect in 2021.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire