Phillies

Why Phillies want Scott Kingery at shortstop despite defensive issues

Phillies

These four games the Phillies have played against the Brewers over the last week have been eye-opening. They've shown just how far the 2018 club is from contending with the NL's best on a nightly basis.

In the span of seven days, the Phillies have allowed 12, 12 and 13 runs to the Brewers. They salvaged a one-run win last Sunday but have been outscored in the four games 40-13.

The Brewers are much better offensively. They're better defensively, especially with how the Phils have fielded lately. 

Jake Arrieta took all the blame after Friday's 13-2 loss, refusing to criticize his defense. But there was more than enough blame to go around, with Scott Kingery committing two errors, Rhys Hoskins dropping a flyball and J.P. Crawford making an errant throw. With the four errors, the Phillies lead the National League with 54 and Arrieta has allowed the most unearned runs in the NL with 11.

Phillies fans are extra frustrated with the defense lately because of the perception that all three young infielders are playing out of position. Hoskins came up as a first baseman and is playing left field. Crawford came up as a shortstop and is starting at third base in place of Maikel Franco, who's being phased out. Kingery has been at shortstop every day after playing just two games there in the minors.

But this is where manager Gabe Kapler cites the future, when contending is more realistic for the Phillies than it is in 2018.

 

"I don't think there's anything dramatic we do (defensively), we don't try anything crazy," Kapler told reporters. "We understand that our players are young, that they're developing, they're learning positions. They've also played fantastic at times, specifically J.P. and Scotty playing well on the left side of the diamond, showing people they can and will continue to do that."

With Kingery hitting .219/.275/.333 with seven errors, the natural question the last six weeks has been why the Phillies aren't playing him at his natural position? It's relevant in terms of the day-to-day of this team, but Kapler and the front office are looking at the big picture, which is Kingery's long-term future, not a game in Milwaukee in mid-June.

"I think if you put him at second base, ideally that would probably be the most comfortable landing spot for him," Kapler said. "But I don't think Scott Kingery is the type of personality that needs to be coddled. I think he's the type of personality that thrives on being challenged. And I don't think that looking at some struggles is the way to analyze this properly. I think the way to analyze this properly is to ask, 'Is this young man getting better because of this experience?' 

"I think the answer to that is yes. Is he strong mentally, tough physically and capable of handling this challenge? I think the answer is yes. At the end of the day do we think he's going to be one of our better players for many years to come because of this experience? The answer is yes." 

So that's why Kingery is at short. It's clear from Kapler's answers that the Phillies view Kingery as the better long-term option at shortstop, and it's clear from Kapler's actions that he views Kingery as the better option right now. It's also abundantly clear that Crawford is being valued at third base ahead of Franco.

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