The Philadelphia Phillies shoulder blame for Scott Kingery’s failure

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

I can’t say that I’m shocked at how the saga of Scott Kingery has played out, because I’m a Philadelphia Phillies fan who has gotten very used to this kind of disappointment. Still, it’s a sad sight when a promising young career goes sideways and reaches what seems like a very unsatisfying end, at least with the franchise who drafted him.

To be fair, Kingery has been bad for going on two years. Very bad, in fact. And probably closer to horrendous. But I do find it curious that the Phillies, after making a hefty investment in Kingery before he ever played in Major League Baseball, never really let him hold down a steady position  in the field and spot in the batting order.

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A long look somewhere, preferably second base, seemed like it would make a lot of sense. But Kingery started 101 games at shortstop in his rookie year of 2018, a place that he never seemed like a good fit. He was being blocked at the keystone by the legendary Cesar Hernandez, so Kingery only managed to play a measly 89 innings at the position over his first two seasons. His bat came around during his sophomore campaign of 2019, but anyone with baseball sense had to wonder what exactly they were doing with this guy.

Miscast in center field for much of that year thanks to the Odubel Herrera situation and Andrew McCutchen’s injury, it was apparent that Scott Kingery really needed a steady job as the calendar flipped to 2020.

And then 2020 actually arrived, and we all know what happened.

Even before the pandemic started, the Phillies relegated Kingery to utility status by signing Didi Gregorius to play shortstop, with an eye toward shifting Jean Segura to second once Alec Bohm arrived at third base. Then, of course, the season was delayed.

Kingery was especially impacted, as he contracted Covid before the abbreviated campaign. By his own admission, it affected him greatly, and his season (if you can call 124 plate appearances a “season”) was putrid as a result. But just like the rest of the league during the wonky, experimental 2020 season, Kingery’s numbers should have been thrown in the trash.

The Philadelphia Phillies have done a disservice to Scott Kingery for years.

The clean slate never really came this year, however, as he was so bad in the spring that he didn’t start with the big club. Unfortunately, instead of getting the necessary work in, the Phillies were forced to call Kingery up way too early because of injuries and the extremely flawed roster that they had constructed. Nobody was surprised at the results, as he went 1 for 19 with 12 strikeouts during sporadic playing time that begged the question of why he was even on the roster.

Now we are left with a broken player whose time as a major leaguer in Philadelphia is almost certainly done, although stranger things have happened. Scott Kingery finds himself in a sad limbo, with a contract too heavy for anyone to take on, even if they were willing to devote time and resources to fixing him and uncovering the potential he seemingly once had.

Blame the Phillies for committing so much term and money to a player before he had made his major league debut. And blame them for seeming more content to let him settle in as some sort of utility player rather than letting him call a position all his own, then treating him as an afterthought without any real aim of helping him improve as a player.

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Scott Kingery himself needed to be much better. And at age 27, time seems to be getting quite short for him to make a career out of this. He is responsible, but so is this ballclub. We can debate whether the Phillies actively wrecked Scott Kingery or if they were simply too idle as he went down the tubes, but either way, let’s not lose sight of how this franchise did absolutely zero favors to this particular player as they let another career slip away.