When perusing for 2020 fantasy baseball sleepers — I peruse, ya’ll! — this jumped out at me like weird nipples on men at a public pool, Scott Kingery had a top eight line drive rate, tied with Cody Bellinger. The top eight is not as elite as you might imagine, assuming you’re not still imagining weird nipples on strange men. There’s some elite guys in there — the aforementioned Bellinger, Freeman, Trout, Merrifield — but it also has guys like David Fletcher and Domingo Santana, which is why I’ve liked them in the past. So, is Kingery part of that elite line drive rate group or the other bleh group? First off, Fletcher is his own beast, or rather non-beast. A Blech Ness Monster, so to speak. He slaps the ball like he’s playing Whack-A-Mole with a broken mallet handle, and is a batting average play, if anything. He’s more akin with the guy who’s ninth on the line drive rate — Adam Frazier. So are Kingery and Domingo Santana akin — Dokingo Scantana? I’d actually suggest Domingo is Fletcher with bad contact rates. Domingo had a similar fly ball and ground ball rate to Fletcher, but Fletcher had a 10% strikeout rate (elite) and Sunday Santana’s 32% strikeout rate is diseased. Good illustration of this is Domingo’s launch angle is 200th overall, and Kingery’s is 50th. (Fletcher’s is even more slappy at 254th.) So, Scott Kingery has nothing in common with Fletcher or Domingo, but does that mean he has a lot more in common with Bellinger, Trout, et al (not the Israeli airline), or rather…So what can we expect from Scott Kingery for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
There was one guy I failed to mention in the top eight line drive rate that is actually similar to Kingery — burying the lede! Jorge Polanco had a near-identical line drive rate, similar fly ball rate and hard contact rate. Last year, Polanco hit 22 homers. Obviously Polanco’s got a lot less speed (4 bags). So, think about how valuable Polanco was, but give him steals. As Our Commissioner Manfred says as he stares at a baseball, “Your juices flowing yet? Good!” Now, Polanco hit .295, which is a bit better than Kingery’s .258, said Mr. Obvious. Does Kingery have any chance of hitting for a better average? You’d think with those line drives, right? I am simpatico with your rhetorical questions! The percentage of pitches Kingery swung at outside of the strike zone went from 39.4% to 33.7% while his percentage for balls swung at inside the strike zone went from 64.6% to 73.4%. That is tremendous. He’s still having contact problems (70%) and swinging strike (15.3%) issues, but he’s at least figuring out the right time to swing. At 25 years of age and only going into his third full year, his 29.4% strikeout rate last year can drop dramatically. Will it get to 16.5% and produce a .295 average like Jorge Polanco? That seems ambitious, ya bishes (that rhymes). He could hit .270+ pretty easily though, and, throw some luck into that, maybe he hits .280+. So, 22 homers, .270 and speed? Yummers! How much speed is the only thing left to figure out. He looks like he’s fired out of a cannon on the basepaths. His sprint speed is elite-ish. None of that’s transferred to his steals. He had 15 steals last year in 19 attempts, which is just okay. *sad trombone* He has 30+ steal speed, but I don’t know if we see it. More times on base (from a better average), a different manager and more confidence from being in the league another year should all help. There’s a cheap Fernando Tatis Jr. lurking here. Call him Raccoon-fur-nando. Or not. Your call. For 2020, I’ll give Scott Kingery projections of 80/22/69/.271/24 in 582 ABs with a chance for more.