Milwaukee Brewers: Room for Scooter Gennett in Future?

stevenjewell
Apr 10, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) reacts after he was ejected from the game in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett (2) reacts after he was ejected from the game in the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
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Scooter Gennett offers the Milwaukee Brewers a left-handed hitter who plays up the middle, but is that enough?

If the plan was to adhere himself to Milwaukee Brewers fan base, Scooter Gennett started his career off right. Gennett joined the team in 2013, replacing the divisive, struggling second baseman Rickie Weeks.

It helped that he posted a .834 OPS that season, including a .362/.395/.552 slash against right-handed pitchers. To the optimist, Gennett looked like the Brewers’ second baseman of the future.

He was an average defender, better than what fans had come to expect from an aging Weeks, as well as a high-average hitter with decent pop.

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And mostly, OK defense while hitting righties with some pop has been Gennett’s bread and butter. He’s been awful against lefties, excepting this year with the help of BABIP. At best he’s an overall average player, and he’s been trending in the wrong direction:

2013-14: 704 PA, .300/.331/.449, 112 wRC+

2015-16: 933 PA, .263/.307/.399, 85 wRC+

Gennett’s true value depends on who you ask. Baseball Prospectus had him as a 2 win player this season. FanGraphs has him around 0 WAR. Baseball Reference is somewhere in between.

So Gennett is either a nice, but unspectacular member of the team, or a player with no value, or somewhere in between? Thank you to those sites, but I think we knew that much already.

If we average those values out, we’re left with a player worth about 1 WAR. Someone who isn’t purely a liability, but is worth replacing. At the end of Gennett’s poor 2015 season, being replaced wasn’t much of a concern. No one was available to take Gennett’s spot outright, so he retained it.

Now, however, two of the Milwaukee Brewers likely building blocks for 2017-and-beyond are middle infielders by trade. Much like this season, Jonathan Villar will play nearly every day in 2017 and barring a demotion to work on hitting, Orlando Arcia will do the same.

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And while it’s true that Villar mostly played third base after Arcia’s arrival, the front office has reportedly decided against revisiting that experiment in 2017. And with good range but frequent throwing errors, Villar certainly seems better suited for second base.

Additionally, Hernán Pérez plays a solid third base and looks like the man for the job for the time being.

Despite playing in fewer games and defensive innings, Pérez owned a higher WAR than Gennett in 2016, making him a more logical play next season. The Brewers should also have a full outfield in ’17, limiting Pérez’s time there.

So with Villar and Arcia up the middle, and Pérez at third, where does Gennett fit? He has essentially zero defensive versatility as an average second baseman. He could take a shot at the outfield in a bench role, but it’s not easy to learn a new position.

So it may come down to a trade. Certainly, a contending team will be looking for second base help this winter, and Gennett would offer them modest value without sacrificing their farm system.

Next: Let's examine Ryan Braun trade talk!

And Gennett could yield the Milwaukee Brewers an impressive haul. Both Jason Rogers and Aaron Hill earned the Brewers one young, upside player and one older player who hadn’t put it all together yet. One of those older players is now the Brewers likely 2017 Opening Day centerfielder, Keon Broxton.

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