Scott Kingery is oh-fer-May. He has 13 plate appearances, no hits, and 10 strikeouts. His OPS is .000. And if you’ve watched the Phillies at all, then you’d know that he’s been even worse than these nonexistent numbers. For instance, he has gone down in the count, 0-2, in four of his last six at-bats, in which he has struck out five times. He was down, 0-1, in the sixth at-bat, which ended with a soft groundout to second base.
Just four years ago, Kingery was the franchise’s top prospect. These days he’s the Little League kid picking dandelions in right field.
The only thing Kingery has hit hard in the last month is the outfield wall in Dunedin, Fla., which he ran into Sunday. That landed him on the seven-day concussion list. He’s eligible to come off the list Monday. Hopefully, he will. Just as hopefully, we won’t see him in Philadelphia again until July at the earliest. Because Scott Kingery does not belong in the big leagues.
This is not Kingery’s fault. New Phillies president Dave Dombrowski is using this 27-year-old kid as cannon fodder. Kingery, who had played less than two full seasons’ worth of games entering 2021, is a disposable asset to whom Dombrowski has no connection and in whom Dombrowski has no stake.
It has been cruel to witness Kingery’s enfeebling. If you care about baseball, or if you care about Kingery, this is disaster during torture: like watching a slow-speed car crash while bamboo is jammed under your nails.
It’s not fair to manager Joe Girardi, it’s not fair to Kingery’s teammates, it’s not fair to Phillies fans, and it is viciously unfair to Kingery. They can’t give a damn about developing him.
What they care about us winning every game possible right now. And if Scott Kingery gives them a 2% better chance to win, either with his speed or his defense or his versatility, they will gladly sacrifice a year of his inevitably short career (all players have short careers) to improve their own chances at survival.
When the Phillies demoted Kingery out of spring training, it was the best thing they’ve done for him since they drafted him in the second round in 2015. In 2018, they signed Kingery to a six-year, $24 million contract before he’d even seen a major league pitch.
When Jean Segura went on the injured list last month with a leg injury, the Phillies called up Kingery from the alternate training site.
Kingery belonged in the minors in 2018, and he should have stayed there in April, getting plate appearances against pitchers with big league experience — pitchers with passably difficult off-speed pitches and decent fastball control. He still needs the 400 triple-A at-bats former general manager Matt Klentak and former manager Gabe Kapler denied him when they decided Kingery was ready for The Show ... as a super-utility player, or a shortstop, or a center fielder, but not ever as the elite defensive second baseman he can be.
Kingery’s attitude, his heart, his character, and his hands all are first-rate, but his swing does not belong in the major leagues. He has no concept of the strike zone; he hasn’t drawn a walk all season. He can’t catch up to any fastball thrown faster than Girardi’s batting-practice cookies. Kingery hit .258 with 19 home runs in 2019, but in 2021 even Chase Anderson would mow him down.
You need a pinch-hitter? Use pitcher Zack Wheeler. He’s 4-for-20 with two doubles, which is three more hits and two more doubles than Kingery has. By comparison, Wheeler is Philly’s Shohei Ohtani.
Relief on the horizon?
Girardi knows this is true. Asked Thursday if he believed Kingery would be best served by being demoted, he replied, “I think at-bats are important for him no matter where he’s at. ... I don’t think he can ‘get right’ if you’re not playing.”
Well, Kingery has 19 at-bats in the Phillies’ 44 games. He appeared in 15 games and started just twice. He’s not getting at-bats, and he’s not playing.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to get him at-bats on a consistent basis,” Girardi promised.
That promise can only be kept if Kingery is demoted again.
Girardi hedged his comments by saying, “I don’t know what our needs are going to be in a week. We’ve been kind of a M*A*S*H unit.”
That’s true. Segura, J.T. Realmuto, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, Bryce Harper, Didi Gregorius, and Andrew Knapp all recently missed time. But every one of the players listed belongs in the bigs.
Not Scott Kingery.
Not right now.