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The Red Report 2018 - Scooter Gennett

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Is there any way Scooter can live up to (or top) his 2017 season?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

  • Born on May 1, 1990 in CINCINNATI, OHIO!
  • Bats: Left Throws: Right
  • The steal of the offseason for the Reds in 2017 (and probably one of the biggest ones in the league), the Reds acquired Scooter for basically nothing after he was waived by the Brewers last spring. For only his 2017 salary, the Reds got 124 OPS and 2.5 WAR. Not bad!
  • Real name: Ryan. Let me tell you a story I’m sure you’ve never heard before: when being fake questioned by a cop that was set up by his mother, a young Ryan Gennett gave the cop a fake name when asked. He used Scooter. It’s a genuinely sweet story that gets more bitter after you’ve heard it for the 900th time. But here it is, for posterity.
  • Scooter Gennett and Lou Gerig. Obviously two names that you naturally associate with one another. Anyway, Gennett was the first player in MLB history to have both four Grand Slams and a four HR game in the same season since Gerig. In all of MLB history, they’re the only two to have done it. Which makes sense and doesn’t defy logic at all.

Organizational History

Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 16th round of the 2009 amateur draft.
Debut June 3, 2013.
Rookie Status: Exceeded Rookie status during 2013 season.
2018 Contract Status: ARB-2.
Free Agent: 2020

Career Stats:

Scouting Report:

Uh ONE, uh TWO, uh THREE, uh FOUR! Ah-ha-ha! FOUR home runs!

Me damn too, Scooter.

I mean literally the only bad thing about this game was that they were wearing those God awful uniforms.

This is pretty cool, too:

2018 Projections:

Scooter Gennett

SOURCE PA HR R RBI SB AVG/OBP/SLG DEF fWAR
SOURCE PA HR R RBI SB AVG/OBP/SLG DEF fWAR
Depth Charts 560 19 65 75 4 .262/.309/.438 -3.6 0.8
Steamer 492 16 52 61 4 .259/.309/.428 -3.4 0.5
Fans 551 18 63 69 4 .276/.325/.438 -1.9 1.3
ZiPS 523 19 66 74 4 .265/.310/.448 -4 0.8

Outlook

What can you say about Scooter Gennett?

Even right on its face, before Scooter Gennett hit a single grand slam for the Reds in 2017, the pick up could hardly be considered a bad one. The Brewers, having acquired Travis Shaw and deciding to move Jonathan Villar to 2B to make full time room for Orlando Arcia, was facing a roster crunch with regards to Gennett. Ultimately, the team decided all parties would be better suited to expose Gennett and his 2.5 million dollar salary to waivers and see if there’d be any takers.

The Reds were the takers, having both the budget to absorb the (relatively little) salary, and an opening for at least part time PAs up the middle.

As things played out, it’s bit ironic that the Brewers surprised everyone and made a legitimate run at a postseason berth, finishing just one game out of the second NL wild card spot while Villar languished through his worst season as a pro while the player who was discarded broke out in a big way.

You think the Brewers couldn’t have used that 124 OPS+ and 2.4 bWAR at 2B in that race in that season?

It’s odd how things turned out.

Scooter Gennett wasn’t just better than anyone could’ve hoped and wished for as a Cincinnati Red; he was unfathomably better and good. Everything was better. Average, OBP, power (both SLG and ISO), BABIP, counting stats. His walk and strikeout percentages went one point in the “bad” direction, but it was basically the same. He was just better. At everything.

There are some explanations for it. In a sustainability sense, the “out of nowhere power” aspect can be explained a bit by trends in batted ball data for Gennett. For one, his Oppo% has dropped significantly since 2015 (31.6 to 23.8) while his hard hit percentage has risen (22.1 to 34.4). That’s not uncommon in baseball today, for sure, and he also follows it up with a huge drop in GB/FB (1.68 to 1.1). It’s exactly the emphasis that’s been put on batting today for a lot of players: hit more balls in the air, harder.

I mean, it sounds easy, but if it was, everyone would do it and have their best season ever. Scooter, it seems, has actually worked on it and emphasized it and CAN do it.

I suppose the elephant in the room is a discussion about juiced balls. In 2017, MLB players broke a 17 year old record in total home runs, bashing 6,105 dingers to 2000’s 5,693 long dongs. It’s pretty obvious now what caused the surge in power in the late 90s and early 00s. The conversation now revolves around the construction of the ball.

And in some ways, Scooter Gennett is a bit of the poster child for that. In a year where a record number of home runs were hit, and 27 year old undersized 2B hit 13 more than he’d ever hit before in a single season, and did THAT in around 240 less plate appearances.

I don’t suppose it’s something that Reds fans should fret much about; everyone’s using the same ball. If it’s that much easier to honk wangers everyone should be doing it, right? In a way, they are, but not every player in the league had a career year. And in a league where offense was up across the board, Scooter still did it 24% better than league average, regardless of what metric you want to use.

The 21% HR/FB ratio is not a real number that can be sustained, probably. It’s double what he’s done before, and 33rd best in the game. That leaderboard is littered with the guys you’d expect (Judge, Stanton, JD Martinez, Gallo, etc.) at the top. That is: not guys like built like Scooter.

Here are things that Scooter can stand to do better: defense and hitting lefties. At 2B Scooter’s not exactly a butcher, but he doesn’t grade out well there. And without Zack Cozart manning SS, there may be more growing pains to come. He graded out at -4.8 in DEF at FanGraphs and, while not the worst number he’s put up... it’s not great. With Peraza being his new DP partner (and Peraza not grading out as a stellar defender at 2B, let alone SS), Reds fans might be longing for the days of Cozart and Phillips sooner than later.

And despite Scooter bashing everything this past season, he was still overmatched by LHP overall. A slash line of .248/.287/.404 against lefties was better than his .208/.254/.305 career line, to be sure, but it still lacks a lot. It might be advantageous to look at least a part time platoon with someone on the bench. Like, I dunno, a guy that’s on the roster and plays the same position and is out of options.

I don’t think it’ll be fair to expect the same production from Scooter going into 2018. But I don’t think it’s fair to sleep on him, either. There’s signs here that Gennett’s more of the player that he was in 2017 than he was, in say, 2016. Even if he’s just a 100-ish OPS+ player, he’s still certainly valuable and as good or better than the Reds would’ve expected when they picked him up on a whim last spring.

Or, who knows. Maybe this is the new normal for Scooter at the plate. It brings to mind another 2B that somewhat inexplicably and suddenly became one of the best hitters in the league.