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Once regarded as one of the Philadelphia Phillies top young talents, Scott Kingery did not have the 2020 that we were all expecting from him. After a nasty bout with COVID-19 leading into the shortened season, Kingery simply never got his feet under him. He finished the year with career-worsts across the board, slashing a measly .159/.283/.511. Kingery’s defense was equally as suspect, as he actually finished with a negative defensive WAR on the year (-0.4).
It was a brutal 2020 campaign for the young infielder/outfielder, one that was constantly riddled with nagging injuries and bouts of inconsistencies. Anytime it looked like he was finally starting to find a rhythm, he’d immediately fall back into a slump highlighted by lots of strikeouts and miscues in the field.
With all that said, there’s still little reason to be 100% “out” on the former second round pick. He had an encouraging season in 2019 (career-high .788 OPS, 2.8 WAR), and he’s still one of the better athletes on the Philadelphia Phillies roster. While he might struggle to snag himself an everyday role at second base – the position he won a Gold Glove at in the minor leagues – there’s a possibility he finds himself a new starting gig in the Phillies outfield this season.
Could the Philadelphia Phillies turn to Scott Kingery as the everyday CF?
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With Didi Gregorius now under contract for the next two seasons, the Phillies actually have a bit of a logjam when it comes to their infield. Didi is obviously the team’s shortstop, Alec Bohm and Rhys Hoskins should be locking down the corners, and then Jean Segura likely takes second base. While the Phillies could in theory rotate Segura and Kingery at 2B to get them both playing time (like they did in 2020), it might make more sense for Joe Girardi to finally commit to Kingery as a full-time center fielder.
Due to his elite athleticism, Kingery has spent a good amount of time in the outfield throughout his three-year career. He’s logged 636 career innings as an outfielder, with 547 of them coming in center. While he’s not been *great* by any stretch of the imagination out in CF, he did post a perfect fielding percentage at the position in 2020, at least showing signs of potential.
While the infield might be a more natural fit for Kingery based on his minor league experience, the Phillies are lacking in outfield depth. Andrew McCutchen is on his last legs, Roman Quinn can be a liability at times, and Adam Haseley has still failed to earn the trust of Girardi as an everyday option himself.
Barring any sort of last minute outfield additions, the Phillies would be wise to at least continue to cross-train Kingery as a second baseman and center fielder. On days where McCutchen needs a rest, lining up Kingery and Haseley as the center and left fielders wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
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While most still share the belief that Kingery needs to get everyday reps at 2B to continue to develop, at some point, playing time starts to become a factor. As long as Segura remains on the roster, it’ll be tough for Scott to be the full-time starter at second base. If taking over CF means getting daily action in the lineup, it’s something the Phillies should consider.