Scooter Gennett’s problem with lefties


It was no secret that in 2013 second baseman Scooter Gennett became one of the most pleasant surprises. While Gennett was one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ best contact hitters from the All-Star break on, there was a scary trend building for the 23-year-old.

Gennett struggled immensely against left-handed pitching, so how will this affect his playing time in 2014?

Scooter Gennett absolutely crushed right handers, but struggled against lefties. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

While the Brewers try to reconstruct a few positions here and there, one of the biggest issues they face is at second base. Will Gennett start? Will Rickie Weeks start? Will they platoon the position? These questions and more have been floating out and about for awhile and not because of Gennett’s inexperience in the majors, but his inability to get a solid read on left-handed pitching.

This season against LHP, Gennett hit a poor .154/.175/.154 which is pretty terrible considering his overall .324 batting average, but that .154 average was only in 39 at-bats against lefties. Maybe it’s too small of sample size to get worried about, but perhaps the concern is justified.

The idea of Gennett platooning with Weeks next season is one that has been thrown out there, but I think in reality it won’t catch much momentum. While Weeks does have the power bat that Gennett lacks, he also goes through major slumps which sometimes sees his average drop below .200.

Besides, platooning Gennett only hurts his playing time and chances to grow as a major league player. It might be an issue of fighting through the inconsistencies, but down the stretch, Gennett will be the everyday second baseman, much like he was in 2013.

Even still, hoping that Gennett magically resolves his issues against lefties isn’t going to make the issue go away. Looking at some of these graphs, it was clearly a problem than Gennett and hitting coach Johnny Narron must address. The first graph looks at his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) against lefties while the second looks at his wOBA (weighted on-base percentage) with the blue dot representing his at-bats against LHP:

It’s clear, especially by his wOBA vs LHP chart, that Gennett has to focus on how to combat these pitchers. He negated a lot of attention to his struggles by doing so well against righties, smacking a slash line of .362/.395/.552. That said, Gennett had a deer in the headlights approach to LHP, but I don’t think it’s something that will remain to be an issue. Narron will work with Gennett on this, so there’s no reason to think his problems this season will correlate with his many years to come. Once again, his struggles against lefties were only in 39 at-bats.

Gennett was a nice surprise for the Brew Crew this season and it’s pretty clear he’s the future at second base, probably starting next season. I understand the notion that the Brewers will need to do something with Weeks and his monstrous contract, but I feel with the inconsistencies he’s shown and the promise that Gennett has shown, there is absolutely no reason for a platoon. If Gennett truly irons out these issues over the offseason and in Spring Training, he will be the every day second baseman going forward.