The Phillies offense got off to a hot start in 2019. The offense averaged 4.95 runs per game up until Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL on June, 3rd against the San Diego Padres. It didn’t take the offense long to show the effects of McCutchen’s loss. Since the injury, the Phillies have averaged 4.05 runs per game over its previous 18 games including a seven-game losing streak. The Phillies finally showed some signs of life on Monday against the Mets by scoring 13 runs. But the Phillies approach going forward in filling McCutchen’s void is vital.
Who’s the next man up after McCutchen for the leadoff hitter?
McCutchen gave the Phillies a balanced attack for a leadoff hitter. He hit a slash line of .256/.378/.457. While also hitting 10 home runs and 29 RBI’s over his 59 game stint in the 2019 season with the Phillies. Although his batting average is not extremely impressive, he was a good fit for the offense as the rest of the team generally excelled in their roles.
Since McCutchen’s absence from the lineup, Manager Gabe Kapler has used four different guys in the leadoff role. The Phillies started with Cesar Hernandez for the first eight games. Hernandez has been impressive in the season hitting for .280/.334/.433 in his usual sixth or seventh spot in the lineup. But those numbers did not translate to him being in the leadoff role. In his eight games as a leadoff hitter Hernandez hit for an average of .118 with only three walks and two strikeouts.
Next man up for Kapler was Jean Segura. Just like Hernandez, Segura has had a great deal of success this season hitting .277/.324/.450. But under his five-game stint as the Phillies leadoff hitter, it also did not equal positive results. Segura hit for an average of .100 with three walks and two strikeouts.
Money man for leadoff?
As if things were not getting confusing enough at this point in the season. Once the lineup card was released for Thursday, June 20th the Phillies faithful got a bit more puzzled. Kapler was then giving the new $330 million dollar power hitter Bryce Harper a shot at leadoff. Harper got the nod at leadoff for four straight games.
Kapler may have used this move to shake up the lineup after losing 5 of 6 going into the game. Or maybe he seriously is considering the transition for Harper. But Harper, unlike Hernandez and Segura, put up some numbers at leadoff. He hit .333 with one walk and three strikeouts. Granted this four-game stretch had three games against the Marlins. But the team still was not able to produce any wins during the short stretch.
Kingery the King of Leadoff?
The most recent and also having the biggest game at leadoff since McCutchen’s injury is Scott Kingery against the Mets on Monday, June 24th. Kingery has done everything that was asked of him this year. He has played multiple positions in the infield along with multiple positions in the outfield all while hitting an impressive .333/.375/.620. And on Monday Kingery went 3 – 6 with an RBI, two runs, and zero strikeouts. Even more important the Phillies offense exploded for 13 runs ending the seven-game losing streak. He backed up that performance by going deep against the Mets on Tuesday to lead off the game. And getting the Phillies rolling for another win 7-5. He is now hitting .400 in the leadoff role.
The Phillies are not done with Kingery at leadoff. Just like McCutchen did, Kingery gives the Phillies power, athleticism, and an even higher batting average. The Phillies are in no position to be scuffling long as they’re already behind the talented Atlanta Braves by 5.5 games in the division.
Images by Elaine Kucharski
Stats via Baseball-Reference
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