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.