Fantasy Baseball: How Will Scott Kingery's Presence Affect the Rest of the Philadelphia Phillies?
Over the weekend, the Philadelphia Phillies surprised everyone when they announced that they were giving baseball's top second base prospect, Scott Kingery, a six-year, $24 million contract. The deal includes three option seasons which, if picked up, could push the deal to $54 million. And it all comes before Kingery's played a single Major League inning.
The team added to the shocking news by saying that, after a fantastic spring, Kingery would make the team's Opening Day roster. It had been assumed that the Phillies would send him down for a few weeks in order to manipulate his service time and gain an extra year of team control, much like the Atlanta Braves are doing with Ronald Acuna. But general manager Matt Klentak said this week that Kingery would be with the team as it opens its season in Atlanta and, most importantly for fantasy players, Kingery is going to play "a lot."
It's easy to see why.
Scott Kingery knows how to celebrate a new contract. pic.twitter.com/LrAKokh1Wp
— Joe Giglio (@JoeGiglioSports) March 26, 2018
So what does all this mean for fantasy owners in 2018, and how does his presence impact other players on the Phillies' roster?
Philly's Third-Best Fantasy Option
Most fantasy owners have already had their drafts, but if you haven't, you're still drafting Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana ahead of Kingery, especially in on-base percentage leagues. But Kingery is the third-best fantasy option on the Phils, ahead of Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, Aaron Altherr, Maikel Franco and Nick Williams.
Why? In 130 games (582 plate appearances), ZiPS projections see Kingery hitting .256/.304/.416 with 16 homers and 20 stolen bases. In AA and AAA combined last season, Kingery slugged 26 bombs and swiped 29 bags, although it should be noted that that took place in the Phils' AA park in Reading, a renowned home run park.
Kingery also had a monster spring, hitting .411/.441/.786 with five homers, four doubles and a triple in 56 at-bats. If Philly's plan is to get him somewhere between 450 and 500 plate appearances, he should be able to hit 15 to 20 homers and steal between 15 to 25 bases, with the potential for more if the team is able to find a trade partner for Hernandez or if Franco struggles and Kingery finds himself in a full-time role at third base.
If the plan is to play Kingery a lot, that means he's going to take plate appearances away from other members of the team, in turn rendering them slightly less valuable in fantasy.
Hoskins and Santana are likely the only two players whose playing time will remain unaffected, but Kingery will certainly take playing time away from second baseman Hernandez. Our projections saw Hernandez hitting .278 with a .741 OPS, 7 dingers, 21 steals and 76 runs scored. If you strip away 50-100 plate appearances, those numbers will undoubtedly be affected.
Kingery will also play some third base in place of Franco. Thanks to a new batting stance, Franco finished the spring with a strong power surge, but our projections weren't high on him to begin with, foreseeing a .259 average and .764 OPS, with 24 homers and 77 RBI in 577 plate appearances.
In case you thought that was it, expect Kingery to relieve J.P. Crawford at shortstop from time-to-time and take a little bit of time away from Altherr, Herrera and Williams in the outfield. The outfield playing time situation was already nebulous -- with four players (Hoskins, Altherr, Herrera and Williams) battling for playing time in three spots -- so this just adds to the logjam.
Manager Gabe Kapler said the plan is to keep all his guys fresh this season by giving everyone somewhere between 450 to 500 plate appearances. That may do wonders for his players' stamina, and it may help them avoid the slumps that go hand-in-hand with the daily grind of a 162-game schedule. But it also reduces their fantasy volume, which is certainly something to consider.
The Bottom Line
Kingery has all of the tools to quickly become one of the best super utility players in the game, in the mold of the Chicago Cubs' Ben Zobrist. However, it's also fair to note that Kingery has never played a single Major League inning and he only has 286 plate appearances at AAA under his belt.
Still, not only is Kingery worth having on your team, he's a player worth targeting in a trade and should absolutely be in your starting lineup when he's starting in one of his many positions for the Phillies.
If you have other Phillies on your roster, remember to double-check the daily lineup, because the lineup is likely to look different from one game to the next. Having Phillies players on your squad -- Kingery included -- is going to require some extra attention for the start of the 2018 season.