Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
To say that the Brewers got little production from second in the first half of 2013 is a large understatement. Despite a promising second half of 2012, former all-star Rickie Weeks struggled yet again out of the gates in 2013. Prior to sustaining a season-ending hamstring injury he slashed .209/.306/.357. The offensive performance in and of itself is bad enough, but it was accentuated by poor defense as he costs the Brewers over eight runs with the glove. It’s safe to say that the situation was full of doom and gloom. Insert Scooter Gennett.
Diminutive in both stature and power, Gennett had managed to become a favorite prospect to many by producing throughout the minor leagues despite the utility-man label put upon him by most scouts. Gennett certainly looked like he belonged in the Show posting a slash line of .324/.356/.479 in 69 games. He showed surprising pop for a player labeled with “gap power” hitting 6 HRs and posting a .155 ISO. Brewers’ fans are hesitant to believe in the non-prospect turned contributor after the Mike Fiers experience, however is it possible that this is the true Gennett?
The first thing to note about Gennett’s line is that it is heavily supported by a .380 BABIP. That’s the very highest end of sustainability reserved for the Mike Trouts of the world. Gennett clearly does not have Trout’s speed, so it is to be expected that the BABIP will have to regress to a more normal level. That adjustment alone would bring Gennett’s line down significantly.
The power surge we saw from Gennett is also unlikely to sustain itself. The .155 ISO he posted was the highest of his career at any level. Between 2011 and 2013 he never posted an ISO above .106. It’s extremely unlikely that a player gained and will sustain that large of an increase in power as he moves up the ladder.
One thing to note about Gennett going forward is his incredibly large platoon split. Obviously, the sample size is not large enough to make a permanent decision of Gennett’s ability, but a .154/.175/.154 line vs. LHPs will not cut it in an everyday role.
I would be very surprised to see Gennett repeat his 2013 performance in 2014. I cannot believe in the power surge with what both his minor league numbers and scouts tell me. BABIP regression will almost undoubtedly occur, and for a high-contact guy who rarely walks (only a 4.3% BB rate) large swings in BABIP will greatly affect his value. This does not mean Gennett cannot be a productive player, however. As the strong side of a platoon at second base, Gennett can provide a solid bat against RHP at a position that is very weak across the league right now. Gennett may not be a centerpiece of a contender, but he can be a contributor to a good team if utilized correctly.