Milwaukee Brewers: Scooter Gennett, utility player?

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Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Milwaukee Brewers don’t have an everyday spot in the starting lineup for Scooter Gennett, can he become a successful utility player?

Adam McCalvy has reported that Scooter Gennett will try out different positions for the Milwaukee Brewers this year. He will need to become more versatile defensively and continue to improve offensively if he hopes to get playing time in 2017.

Scooter Gennett has long been the butt of Sabermetric jokes. He does not take a lot of walks, or have a lot of power. He is below average defensively, only plays second base, and struggles against left-handed pitching. In 2016 he did make some strides in these areas and that may allow him to succeed as a utility player.

Walks.

This is probably the largest knock on Gennett. His career walk rate is 5%. Well below league average, but in 2016 he walked at a 7% pace. This is still not great, but it is a major improvement. 2016 may be an outlier, but if his walk rate can hover around 7-8%, that can provide the club some value.

Power.

Scooter had a career high 14 home runs in 2016, it is the first time he has hit double digits in his career. A left-handed bat with power is valuable late in games. Power numbers tend to rise at a player matures and I think this development is the most sustainable.

Platoon splits.

Last year Gennett’s batting average against right-handed pitching was .264, however his average against left-handed pitching was .260. Granted he only had 108 plate appearances against lefty’s (vs 434 against RHP). This was the first year where his batting average platoon split was similar. In years past the split has been as much at 200 points.

Defense.

This is a complete unknown and being serviceable at multiple positions is the most important thing Scooter will need to do contribute to the team. Can Scooter play third base? Right field? Left field? Would you rather have Gennett in the outfield over Kirk Neiuwenheis or Hernan Perez? It just seems like a long shot at this point, though stranger things have happened.

I think Scooter Gennett has made enough improvements with his bat to be productive off of the bench. He could be a good left-handed pitch hitting option late in games and can spell Jonathan Villar at second base. If he can be proficient at other positions it will be an added bonus for the Brewers in 2017, kudos to him for being willing to give it a try.

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