Photo by Cheryl Pursell.
Scott Kingery can hit for power, hit for average, and has speed. So where in the order should he be hitting? For the most part, he’s batted out of the leadoff spot this season with both Reading and Lehigh Valley and the numbers seem to show that it’s a good spot for him.
As you can see, Kingery has hit primarily out of the leadoff spot in the order throughout his time in the minors, but has had success at other spots in the lineup as well. Kingery hasn’t hit in the three-spot since being with Clearwater last season, and the only times that he has hit sixth, seventh or eighth was during his 2016 season at Reading. He batted ninth twice last season with the Fightins and once in 2015 with Lakewood.
Hitting out of the top spot in the order this season, Kingery is hitting a combined .311 (119-for-383) between Reading and Lehigh Valley. Leadoff is the only spot that he’s batted in his 42 games with the IronPigs, while 51 of his 69 games with the Fightins came out of the top spot in the order. He batted second 12 times at Reading, hitting .269 (14-for-52) and hit third six times, batting .350 (7-20).
To drill even deeper, when you look at Kingery’s 2017 stats in the first inning when batting out of the leadoff spot, the results are interesting. Overall, Kingery has a .337 average in the first inning of games this season in the 89 games that he’s been the leadoff hitter. When playing at home – either in Reading or Lehigh Valley – he’s a combined .360 (18-for-50) hitter in the same situation and a combined .308 (12-for-39) on the road. Both numbers are well above his overall average as a leadoff hitter in his career.
Overall, his average is better as the second hitter in the lineup, but his AB/HR drops from one home run every 25.5 AB down to one every 129.5 AB in the second spot. Batting third, he averages a home run every 85.3 AB. Hitting second also slightly drops his chances to steal a base and take advantage of his speed.
Kingery currently has a 12-game hitting streak for Lehigh Valley and has hits in 28 of the last 29 games, hitting .319 (38-for-119). He has also gotten hits in 38 of his 42 games with Lehigh Valley.
“He can do so much for you on the field,” said manager Dusty Wathan, who had Kingery both last season at Reading and this season with Lehigh Valley. “He can play either part in a hit-and-run, he hits for power, puts himself in scoring position; he’s a definite weapon. I don’t doubt that he could handle hitting anywhere in the order, but I think leadoff – certainly in the top three spots in the order – is the best place for him to hit.”
Ironically, Cesar Hernandez, the guy whose roster spot Kingery may one day steal, is also a pretty good leadoff hitter. In a side-by-side comparison though, Kingery is likely to hit for much more power and steal more bases at the major league level than Hernandez will. Average and on-base percentage will likely turn out to be much the same for either player. You have to give the defensive edge to Kingery when comparing the two.
The Phillies have decisions to make at a number of positions, including second base. Kingery likely heads for Philadelphia in September and how the Phillies split the playing time between Kingery and Hernandez is going to be interesting. Technically, the Phillies could continue to wait-and-see and keep Kingery at Triple-A again next season, but odds are that by the trade deadline, he figures to be pushing hard to supplant Hernandez in the Phillies lineup, not only at second base, but in the leadoff spot in the order, as well.