While his offensive statistics won't jump off the page, Phillies shortstop Scott Kingery has shown progress at the plate after an extremely rough first two months in the big leagues.
Kingery, who entered Saturday's game against the visiting Washington Nationals hitting, .234 with a .632 OPS, is coming off his best month.
In March/April he hit .225 and then batted .213 in May. With one day left in June he was hitting .261, again not tearing the cover off the ball, but showing improvement, all while adjusting to a new position at shortstop.
Lost in Friday's 17-7 defeat to the Nationals was that Kingery had the first three-hit game of his young career, including his fourth home run.
What's more, in June, he has hit the ball harder. According to Fangraphs.com, his line drive percentage for June was 37.1 percent, compared to 22.6 percent in March/April and 14.3 percent in May.
What is also clear is that Kingery is a more confident player at the plate these days.
"In the beginning of the season, I knew there would be a period of time I had to make an adjustment to the pitching. And, mechanically, I have gotten my swing to where I want it to be and got my confidence back at the plate," Kingery said before Saturday's game. "I just started feeling good again and I think that is a big part of it."
Another big part was manager Gabe Kapler sticking with Kingery. Even as recently as June 13, Kingery was hitting just .211. In the 15 games since, he was batting .327 entering Saturday's game.
"It is awesome to have him put me in the lineup regardless of how I was at the plate and give me the chance to work through things," Kingery said.
Kapler adds that the credit goes to Kingery.
"I think he is being more selective and is squaring up the baseball more frequently," Kapler said.
Before spring training, it was assumed Kingery would start the year in triple A, but he mashed the ball in Florida, hitting .411 with a 1.266 OPS in 56 at-bats. He signed a six-year, $24 million contract in late March that could be worth as much as $65 million if the Phillies exercise the three option years through 2026.
Kingery has also been learning to play shortstop while on the job this season. He only played the position for two games in the minor leagues, both last year with triple-A Lehigh Valley.
With Cesar Hernandez entrenched at second base, which is Kingery's best position, he has had to move around.
Saturday was the 50th game Kingery has started at short. He has also started eight games at third base, two at second base, three in left field, and two in right field.
Kingery, who turned 24 in April, refused to blame playing a relatively new position for his offensive woes.
"I think it helps to have some consistency, and now knowing I will probably be playing shortstop every day and knowing I will have the same routine helps a lot," he said. "But offense and defense are completely different things and I don't think you take your defense out to the plate."
Kingery understands he still has plenty of work to do.