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Scott Kingery’s not so good 2020 wasn’t his fault (at least, not totally)

You have to feel bad for the guy

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals - Game Two Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The numbers:

.159/.228/.283, 124 PA, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 35:9 K:BB, 37 OPS+

The good:

Well, one thing you can say about Scott Kingery’s season is that it gave us one of the defining walk off videos of all time, thanks to the outstanding moves done by Andrew McCutchen.

What’s that? You want it in gif form?

The bad:

Let’s start with the worst thing that happened to Kingery: his contracting the coronavirus.

Without having experienced the full effects yourself (not just testing positive, but getting the full blown effects), it’s really difficult to blame Kingery for anything this season. It’s almost as if we need to give him a pass on his poor performance. Just read his description of what happened to him.

“It started on a Thursday (June 11) when I came down with a headache,” the Phillies second baseman told NBC Sports Philadelphia from his home in Phoenix on Tuesday. “I tried to play it off but it didn’t go away...Saturday around 10 a.m., I got chills so bad I couldn’t move without my whole body shaking...(t)hat night, my fever spiked so high that I sweated through my sheets. It left an imprint of my body...(m)y fever broke Sunday morning and I actually felt a little better...(b)ut then three or four days later, I lost my sense of taste and smell for a few days. That was really annoying.”

That is really quite alarming as to what happened.

“For a week, I was so tired. Low energy. Fatigue. Then I experienced shortness of breath for a week. I felt like I laid on the couch for three weeks without moving. I was tired just going up the stairs.”

It’s easy to downplay the fact that someone Kingery’s age got coronavirus when we were given the misinformation from our leaders that it only affects the elderly or those that have a preexisting condition. This was a seemingly healthy young man who experienced some of the worst the virus has to offer. Luckily he lived to tell the tale.

Now we have to consider the side effects that could linger for months. How does it affect his breathing going forward? How does it affect his heart health? These questions pile up to the point where you cannot blame Kingery for his poor season; you almost have to just be happy that he was able to play at all.

Now, since we have to look at his baseball playing, there are some things that trended downward during the season. Pitchers found a new way to exploit him, shifting from more breaking stuff to more offspeed stuff.

Made sense too, since on that offspeed stuff, he literally batted .000. It’s a small sample size of 22 PA, but still - that’s bad.

His average exit velocity and launch angle both decreased (by 3 m.p.h. and almost one full degree, respectively), but that can partially explained from the lingering weakness he had from the coronavirus.

I think.

The future:

Now, there were some marginally good signs from Kingery in his abbreviated season. He did have a slight (still negligible) rise in his walk rate while cutting his strikeout rate. His BABIP was an unfathomably low .200, something that will almost certainly be improved, especially since his speed should help him leg out some more hits. A full offseason to workout and a full spring training will be important for Kingery, giving him the reps he missed last season and being able to take those reps at full strength.

Putting all of that aside, the future for Kingery here in Philadelphia is extremely important as we head into 2021. We’d have to assume that he’ll be ok enough to resume regular workouts and that he’ll be back in baseball shape if he isn’t already. But his 2019 wasn’t all that hot, and the less we speak of his 2018, the better. He’s beginning to reach the point in his ill-advised extension where he isn’t the cheap asset any more. He’s starting to make real money come 2021, so more will be expected of him. If he is not able to produce, it will be time to start thinking about moving on from him, sending him to another organization in return for someone that could be revived by the Phillies, the good ol’ “change of scenery” trade.

While we can just brush aside his 2020 season with the obvious coronavirus excuse, his 2021 season will not receive the same generosity. Kingery will have to show real improvement in a lot of areas if he wants to remain part of the team’s plans.