TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona (24-13, 9-9 Pac-12) junior infielder Scott Kingery (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) is on fire. The 5 feet 11 inch 175 pound college baseball Player of the Year candidate is dialed in, and in an interview with College Baseball Central Monday he said it’s just part of his job.
“It’s definitely an honor to be considered for that award,” Kingery told College Baseball Central. “There is so many great players in college baseball that just to have my name out there at the top of that list is just amazing. As a leadoff man that’s really just my job…to get the offense rolling.”
Before Kingery even stepped into the batter’s box for the first time this year he was already dressed in accolades; 2015 D1Baseball.com Preseason All-American (second team), Baseball America Preseason All-American (third team), Louisville Slugger Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-American (third team), 2014 Pac-12 All-Conference, 2014 Pac-12 All-Academic (honorable mention), 2014 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star, 2014 Gregg Olson Award Semifinalist, 2014 Pac-12 Player of the Week (Feb. 17-23).
“Anything I can do to find a way on base and scratch a run on the board really helps,” Kingery said. “This year in the fall I definitely worked on trying to take care of the outside pitches, and try to shoot them to right field rather than try to pull them. I really changed my approach this year to kind of hit the ball where it was pitched. Find a way to put the ball in play.”
Kingery is putting the ball in play…so much that he is first in the Pac-12 in hits (70) and third in the nation. In fact, his .440 batting average is second in the nation (1st Pac-12).
Kingery’s 177 plate appearances is seventh in the conference, and this stat could be the most important of them all because the more you appear at the plate, the harder it is to maintain the kind of numbers he is putting up. So really, this is a testament above all to the kind of year this young man is having.
“I had two main goals this year, and one was to lead the Pac-12 in hitting,” Kingery told CBC. “I came really close last year so I just wanted to make that happen. I’m really doing a great job of that right now. I also wanted to make All-Pac Defensive Team. Coming in to a new position at second base, I really felt comfortable at the end of fall with the new position and I really thought I could have a chance to play some lock-down defense. I really wanted to show that I have the ability to play really good defense.”
Seventh in the conference at fielding double plays (26), and first in assists (130), says Kingery is on that All-Pac Defensive Team.
Wake Forest first baseman Will Craig and Kingery have – for the majority of the year – been trading punches back and forth for the front running recipient of the POY award. Given there are other players making a case as well, Ryan Howell the Nevada two-way threat comes to mind.
However, if you consider Craig, who was leading the nation in home runs for the past month, is now fifth (12), and that he is hitting in a ball park designed for batters to hit home runs — with the wall to left at Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park 310 feet and 320 to right – I think Kingery’s domination of the statistical hitting categories puts him in front.
I’m not trying to take anything away from the amazing year Craig is having, I’m just saying, if you play in a park conducive to home run hitting, and you’re a power hitter, then you’re going to hit home runs.
“We play at one of the biggest yards in the country,” Kingery told College Baseball Central. “We have a lot of outfield space out there so we hit the ball hard and low here. If you can hit the ball to the gap…with the ground being very hard here in Tucson as well, then you can run. If you put the ball in the air the outfielders have a lot of time to cover some ground, so if you keep it low you’re going to find your way on base.”
Kingery’s numbers are insane. He is 19th in the nation with 43 runs scored, tied for 12th with five triples, 49th in on-base percentage, eighth in total bases, eighth in runs scored per game.
In the Pac-12 he is second in slugging percentage (.660), sixth in RBI (31), and he also has four home runs, and eight stolen bases.
I almost forgot, Kingery is ranked by the NCAA as the 23rd hardest person to strike out in college baseball.
Let the numbers speak for themselves, I think I know where my vote is going at this point.