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Milwaukee Brewers 2015 Projections: Scooter Gennett

kylewl22
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Last season, the Brewers employed a successful platoon at second base, with Rickie Weeks shielding Scooter Gennett from left handed pitchers during the course of the season. With Weeks now gone via free agency, some speculated (myself included) that the Brewers would pursue a veteran infielder like Emilio Bonifacio or Gordon Beckham to again platoon with Gennett this season. However, the Brewers have been firm in their stance about Gennett as the everyday second baseman going into 2015, despite his well documented struggles against lefties. So, what can we expect from Scooter Gennett in 2015?

The 24 year old Gennett broke into the big leagues with a bang in 2013, taking over for an injured Rickie Weeks and posting a 127 OPS+ in 230 plate appearances for the Brewers while playing surprisingly solid defense at second base. His 2.0 WAR in an abbreviated stint was more than Weeks had done in any season since 2011, giving the Brewers reason to drop Weeks into a platoon with the young Scooter heading into 2014 despite his expensive contract.

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In his first full season, the lefty hitting Gennett enjoyed pretty solid results across the board. He put up a .289/.320/.434 line in 474 plate appearances (mostly against righties), good enough for a 108 OPS+ and 104 wRC+, both above league average. He showed surprising power with nine home runs among his 43 extra base hits, and also managed six steals in nine tries. USR/150 gave Gennett a rating of 0.3, and Fangraphs rated him as the 8th best fielding second baseman in 2014. All told, Gennett was worth 1.8 wins above replacement last year.

Scooter is by no means a sure thing as we head into 2015, however. The biggest concern we should all have is his demonstrated inability to hit left handed major league pitching. For his career, Scooter has put up a .128/.150/.141 line in 83 plate appearances against lefties. While this may be somewhat of a small sample size, we can still be concerned about the fact that Scooter hit lefties progressively worse as he moved up the minor league ladder. While the Brewers seem convinced that Gennett will be able to handle the full time role, I’m not at all sold on Scooter being able to hit lefties. I’m hoping he can manage at least a .200 batting average off southpaws in 2015.

Less talked about, but perhaps equally concerning, has been Scooter’s consistent inability to draw walks. Excluding a 22 game stint at Rookie Level in 2011, Gennett has posted walk rates between between 4-6% at every stop he’s made. While some have speculated that Gennett could be a fit as leadoff hitter, this poor walk rate leaves a lot to be desired. Unless Scooter can make some adjustments to his approach, it’s unlikely he’ll ever develop into the high OBP type player I like to see in the leadoff spot. Scooter’s career BABIP is a very high .339, including a .321 mark last season (league average last season was .300). If the hits stop falling, Scooter could see a similar regression to what Jean Segura experienced last season.

In 2015, I’m predicting:

151 G   634 PA   601 AB   86 R   164 H   38 2B   1 3B   7 HR   52 RBI   7 SB   2 CS   .273 BA   .311 OBP   .374 SLG   30 BB   95 K

We’ll rate Gennett as an average baserunner and say his defense is “solid.” Using our handy dandy WAR calculator and last year’s .750 MLB average OPS, these numbers give Gennett a projected WAR of 1.54. These may not be All-Star type numbers, but Gennett should be a solid contributor regardless.

I’m pegging Scooter Gennett to take a slight step back in terms of production for 2015, the first extended look he’ll get as the everyday second baseman. I think that Gennett’s platoon splits negate some of the value he can provide, and the Brewers would have been wise to try and shore up the position by bringing in a right handed hitter to complement Scooter. Unfortunately, this was not to be. In the end, Gennett’s solid defense and strong ability to hit right handed pitching will allow him to still be a valuable member of the Brewers for the 2015 Championship Season.

Check out all of our 2015 Brewers player projections:
C Jonathan Lucroy
1B Adam Lind

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