Jun 11, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy (28) slides as Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) completes the double play during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Let's Look at: Scooter Gennett

Last week, in the inaugural “Let’s Look at”, we reviewed Rickie Weeks and his successes so far in 2014.  These days, one cannot adequately review Weeks without mentioning Scooter Gennett, and vice versa. Gennett and Weeks are thriving in their straight platoon, with Gennett being especially hot as of late.  Last week, Ron Roenicke moved Gennett to the top of the order, and he has rewarded his manager with a .452 batting average in seven games from the lead-off spot.

Gennett’s recent hot streak has improved his overall slash line to .306/.342/.458, numbers that translate well for a lead-off hitter.  An important part of hitting at the top of the order is on-base percentage, and Gennett’s increased walk rate (5.5%) over last year (4.3%) is integral to his performance. Gennett showed signs of improving his walk rate in AAA prior to his call up in 2013, as well as the ability to cut down on errors, something that had plagued him in his three previous minor league seasons.

In fact, Gennett’s Major League fielding percentage (.980) is considerably more attractive than his minor league counterpart (.969) matching up favorably to Weeks (.970). Gennett also exceeds Weeks in terms of UZR (Utimate Zone Rating), a comprehensive defensive statistic. Gennett currently owns a UZR/150 of 3.2, placing him between “average” and “above average”. Weeks has a UZR/ 150 of -8.5, placing him between “below average” and “poor”. Gennett’s hit tool has also exceeded Weeks in the respective stages of their careers, though there was some doubt about Gennett’s ability to build off of his break out performance 2013.

After a prolific year in which Gennett hit .324 in 69 games, most expected Gennett to regress to the .270-.280 range in 2014, myself included. This would have eliminated Gennett’s only plus tool, his ability to hit for average. Gennett has responded thus far, and has recently brought his average over the .300 mark.

Much has been made -rightfully so- of Gennett’s ability to hit with a pitch, meaning he has the ability to spray the ball all over the field, taking pitches away into left field, and pulling inside pitches into right. The ability to spray the ball is immensely important in the Bigs, due to increased scouting on hit patterns and improved defense.

Gennett is still working to show that 2013 was not a fluke, and so far, he has been spectacular at second. He has edged Weeks out of any possible at-bats against righties, and looks more and more like the future at second base every day. It still remains to be seen if Gennett will ever be able to stack up against southpaws, though a utility guy could platoon with him down the road if he remains a strong hitter against righties. Presently, Gennett is slashing an outstanding .348/.382/.530 career against righties, enough to ensure him a spot in the lineup for the foreseeable future.

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Tags: Milwaukee Brewers Scooter Gennett

  • daveineg

    Weeks is hitting .125 so far in June, and looking horrible in the field. Gennett needs to be the everyday guy. Gennett is too good a hitter to not be able to lift his numbers vs. lefties once he starts seeing them regularly. The ability to use the entire field insures in today’s game is more important than ever.

    • webjr

      Even last year when Gennett was the only guy for half the season his numbers against lefties were terrible. If Gennett wants to be the everyday guy, he needs to play like it all the time. So far only in June has he had those kinds of numbers. In April and May his numbers benefited greatly from his platoon split.

      The platoon is the best option for the remainder of the season.

      • daveineg

        Gennett is a good enough hitter that over time his numbers vs. lefties will be respectable. He wasn’t the “only guy” last year after Weeks went down. He only got 6 starts vs. LHP all of last year. Besides the entire rest of the lineup hits right handed so it’s not like it’s handicapping the team greatly if he’s in the lineup. As a young player he needs to see more LHP, not less, to maximize his value. His sample size vs. LHP is still too small to draw the conclusion he can’t hit them. Most of his AB’s this year against them have been lefty specialists who usually dominate all LH hitters. Most splits against lefty starters aren’t nearly as extreme for LH hitters.

        Weeks is a defensive liability at a key defensive position. Unless he’s hitting with authority, it makes more sense just to keep Gennett in there. Seeing lefties more often probably will make Gennett even better vs. righties.

        • webjr

          In 2011 with Brevard County, Gennett’s OPS against Lefties was 100 points lower than against Righties, .767 to .667.

          In 2012 with Huntsville it was even worse, .759 against Righties, .607 against Lefties.

          In 2013 between Nashville and Milwaukee it was worse still. .831 against Righties, and .592 against Lefties.

          Every time he’s gone up a level his performance against left-handed pitching has gotten worse.

          Scooter hits well for a 2B, but his ceiling is still as an average hitter (which is fine at 2B). What has he shown in the minors or majors that leads you to believe his splits against left-handed pitching would be acceptable for a starting player?