Be wary of Scooter Gennett in 2015

Ever since Scooter Gennett made his major league debut on June 3, 2013, fans in Milwaukee have been enamored with the scrappy second baseman. He made a splash in the bigs almost immediately, boasting a .364 wOBA and 130 wRC+ in his first 69 games. That, plus being paired with the decline of Rickie Weeks, who has always been hated on by Brewers’ fans, made Gennett a quick fan favorite.

But, as expected, Gennett’s statistics took a dip in his first full season. His .320 on-base percentage was eighth on the team (min 100 plate appearances), and he created just four percent more runs than league average. He put up these less than stellar stats while only facing right-handed pitchers, and with Weeks completely out of the picture in 2015 and no clear platoon partner, times could get tougher for the 24 year old.

If the Brewers plan on Gennett being the main man at second, he’ll need to starting hitting southpaws. It’s not that he’s bad when facing left-handed pitchers, it’s that he’s horrifically awful. In his career, he has a .150 OBP, .134 wOBA and -29 wRC+ (yes, it is possible to have a negative wRC+) versus lefties. Those numbers are based on an extremely small sample size, just 78 at-bats, but his minor league splits don’t bode well for him either.

And Gennett is well aware of his battles with left-handed pitchers. Here’s an interesting quote from him in late June of this year:

“I would rather play and maybe struggle against a lefty than not play at all. But if that’s what the team can benefit most from, then I’m happy with it at the same time.”

The Brewers have two options. They can put Gennett out there with no regard to who is on the mound and hope he gets better with time (practice makes perfect, right?), or they can find another Rickie Weeks and put together another successful platoon. In 2014, Milwaukee’s second basemen posted MLB’s fourth-best wOBA and wRC+, and 11th-best WAR. There’s no way Gennett will be able to duplicate those numbers by himself, and thus, is in need of a platoon partner. He knows he’s going to struggle, and if he knows that and the Brewers know that, there’s no reason Gennett should be out there with a lefty on the mound.

I’m not going to release my 2015 projections for at least another month and a half, but I’ll give you a sneak peak of what I expect from Gennett if he gets the call every day.

Name AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Scooter Gennett .268 6 .310 95 .314 .125 17.0% 4.1% 1.4

And here’s what Steamer is projecting from Scooter:

Name AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Scooter Gennett .279 10 .314 96 .316 .119 14.4% 4.9% 1.6

Steamer likes Gennett more than I do, but just barely. We both expect him to be below league average when it comes to creating runs, and most of his 1.6 WAR will come from his defense and not his bat.

Gordon Beckham is someone the Brewers must look at. He was recently non-tendered by the Angels, and has a career .341 wOBA and 118 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers, making him an ideal option to join Gennett at second base. Before being non-tendered, MLB Trade Rumors projected Beckham to earn $5 million in his final round of arbitration. The Brewers may not want to pay that for a platoon guy, but after giving Weeks $11 million in 2014 for essentially the same role, $5 million is pocket change.

Adding a player like Beckham would not only take pressure off Gennett, but it would absolutely make the team better. Gennett’s not ready for a full-time role, and I don’t think the Brewers can afford to take that chance yet, not if they expect to compete in 2015.

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