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Updating the Top 100: Scooter Gennett

MLB: Spring Training-Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A bunch of years ago, I wrote a series of player capsules in which I attempted to rank the top 100 players in Cincinnati Reds history. Trying to balance career totals, peak quality, and consistency of performance, I made a list and have subsequently updated that list. The most current ranking is linked here. The next several days will provide my 2019 updates, including any “honorable mention” players (think top 250 or so). Any disagreements with the existing list or current updates should be directed to Wick.

I think it could be argued that the single worst day of the 2019 season for the Reds was March 22. In a Spring Training contest against the Brewers, Scooter Gennett attempted a sliding catch of a ground ball in the outfield grass and suffered a severe groin injury in the process.

Here is a partial list of the downside impacts of that injury:

· The replacements at 2nd base turned out to not be good. Four players appeared in at least 25 games at the keystone this season. Jose Peraza (62 OPS+) had 78 games at 2nd base. Derek Dietrich (100 OPS+, 58 games), Kyle Farmer (74 OPS+, 41 games), and Freddy Galvis (76 OPS+, 27 games) rounded out the list. Dietrich, of course, had his impossibly great month of May and then was subsequently worse than any of his positional colleagues. The net result was that the 2nd base position turned from a strength to a liability overnight: It was the single worst position on the field for the team by bWAR and the Reds ranked dead last in 2nd base production in the National League.

· This is obviously a related note, but the Reds missed out on Gennett’s likely production in 2019 were he healthy. As a 29 year old with two preceding seasons of fairly consistent production, Gennett should have been a bankable asset in 2019. Moreover, was there a player on the roster who was better positioned to benefit from the juiced ball season than Gennett? A fly ball hitter with pretty decent contact rates and good (but not great) power, Gennett would have been the poster child for a sizable year-over-year increase in dingers.

· When Gennett did come back from injury, he just simply wasn’t good.

· Rough math might suggest that the Reds lost 4 wins by going to Gennett to the replacements. There might be some additional interdependencies that might have added to that total, but assuming a 4 win swing, that might not have been enough to move the Reds into the contender column. Which means that a high-producing Gennett in a walk year making less than $10 million might have been, say, slightly more attractive in the trade market, presumably allowing the Reds to garner more than the cash considerations bounty they hauled in from the Giants by trading Gennett.

The Reds headed into the season with 2nd base being a position of strength and depth. Gennett’s injury exposed the depth as not being very strong and as a result, the position is a major question mark headed into 2020.

Gennett did not make his season debut until June 28. It was more than two weeks later that he collected his first extra base hit or RBI, and three full weeks later that he drew his first walk of the year. In 21 games for the Reds, Gennett hit .217/.236/.261 (28 OPS+) before being shipped to San Francisco. The paltry partial campaign, combined with his prior seasons as a Red, leaves Gennett’s lifetime Cincy numbers at .298/.344/.493 (118 OPS+), with 50 HR, 194 RBI, and mostly competent defense at 2nd base. He drops one slot on the all-time Reds list, from #227 to #228, and remains the 15th best 2nd baseman in team history.

Top 15 2nd Basemen in Reds history

1 Joe Morgan

2 Bid McPhee

3 Brandon Phillips

4 Lonny Frey

5 Miller Huggins

6 Johnny Temple

7 Ron Oester

8 Hughie Critz

9 Bret Boone

10 Dick Egan

11 Sam Bohne

12 Tommy Helms

13 Pokey Reese

14 Morrie Rath

15 Scooter Gennett