When the Phillies announced they had signed Scott Kingery to a surprising six-year, $24 million contract at the end of spring training, it was surprising. It was even more surprising when the team also announced that, after a fantastic showing in Clearwater, he had made the Opening Day roster.
With just 63 AAA games in his pocket, the Phils gave him $24 million. Was that much of a gamble by the Phillies? Not really, considering the team has likely made $24 million since the time you started reading this. But $24 million ain’t nothin’, and for Kingery, it was life-altering money.
So far, it looks like a steal for the Phils.
After yet another extra-base hit in the Phils’ 10-4 win over the Rays on Sunday, Kingery has seven doubles and 12 RBIs in 13 games, including this game-altering bases-clearing two-bagger that gave the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish.
#Phillies' Scott Kingery smashes a bases-clearing double in T3. @Phillies No. 2 prospect now has 11 RBIs in his past 6 games. No. 35 on @MLB's #Top100Prospects list: https://t.co/TuTZgd5PTS pic.twitter.com/AA1HPWs2jW— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 15, 2018
Of his last eight hits, six are for extra bases, and he is doing things we haven’t seen a player do in a while.
Scott Kingery is the first player to have 7+ doubles in his first 13 career games since Steve Clevenger in 2011-12— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) April 15, 2018
Scott Kingery is also the only Phillies rookie since 1936 with at least 12 RBI in April.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) April 15, 2018
Scott Kingery leads the Phillies with 8 extra-base hits — and has more so far than Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, the list goes on. What a start.— Corey Seidman (@CSeidmanNBCS) April 15, 2018
In his bases-clearing double at-bat against Tampa, Kingery fought back from being down 0-2 in the count, something the rookie has done a lot so far. In an extremely small sample size, Kingery has a .429 batting average, .714 slugging percentage and OPS of 1.143 in 14 PAs in which he’s been down 0-2 in the count.
Overall with two strikes, Kingery is batting .265/.286/.441 with a .727 OPS in 35 PAs, and in 26 plate appearances in which the pitcher is ahead in the count, Kingery is batting .346/.346/.654 with an OPS of 1.000.
Those numbers are impressive for a veteran, let alone a rookie.
That Kingery has done all this while playing five different positions is even more surprising. He’s played two games at second base, four games at third, three games at shortstop, three games in left field and one game in right field. He’s the only position player who is shifting between the infield and outfield, and is raking while he does it.
“There’s no way Scott Kingery can play all these posit...... oh.” pic.twitter.com/dUuiylYt6t— Phillies Nation (@PHLPhilNation) April 12, 2018
Last week, he hit his first career dinger.
Career home run No. 1⃣ for Phillies rookie Scott Kingery!— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 9, 2018
(via @NBCSPhilly) pic.twitter.com/TnqwdJThuh
The next night, his first grand slam.
Scott Kingery drives in four with one swing pic.twitter.com/GJ0ScTLzTM— SI MLB (@si_mlb) April 11, 2018
The night after that, a walk-off sacrifice fly.
And you can *walk off* with your own Kingery bobble head on April 28. https://t.co/DnC0MFgrs0 pic.twitter.com/eplDjTYYSW— IronPigs (@IronPigs) April 12, 2018
He’s 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position on the young season (.438/.444/.875, 1.319 OPS) with a homer, four doubles and 11 RBIs. He may not continue at that pace, but it’s an awfully impressive start to hitting in clutch situations.
Kingery has also hit all over the lineup. He’s batted 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 9th in his starts so far, and he’s clearly become one of the most impressive rookies in MLB. Only the Padres’ Christian Villanueva has a higher fWAR (0.8) than Kingery (0.6), and Kingery’s total is just a tick better than the more heralded (for good reason), Shohei Ohtani (0.5). Ronald Acuna is probably still the favorite to win the NL Rookie of the Year, but if he isn’t called up soon, Kingery or Villanueva could run away with it before he makes it to the bigs.
Of course, Kingery’s on-base percentage could be better (.315 is 4th on the team) and his walk rate of 5.6% isn’t fantastic. Cesar Hernandez has also out-hit Kingery in both wOBA (.380 to .364) and wRC+ (140 to 129). But so far on this very young season, Kingery’s 0.6 fWAR is tied with Rhys Hoskins for tops on the Phils.
His start to 2018 has been better than anyone had a right to expect, and has made him arguably the team’s best overall player through the first 14 games of the 2018 season.
Who has been the Phillies’ best position player so far in 2018?
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