Tag Archives: Ron Roenicke

Scooter Gennett leading off makes little to no sense

This is going to be a short piece. In all honestly, I’m sick of writing about this subject. I’m tired of saying Scooter Gennett needs a platoon partner, that he will struggle without one. But now that Ron Roenicke is considering him to bat leadoff, I have no choice but to voice my concern.

An inflexible manager is not an effective commodity for a baseball team, so when Ron Roenicke told the media he plans to stick with one leadoff hitter instead of flip-flopping based on matchups, I was fairly disappointed. In the past, Roenicke has been pretty flexible in terms of constructing lineups, so it’s unclear why he wants to pencil in one leadoff hitter and leave him there for the duration of the season. Not to mention he’s deciding between a righty and a lefty in Carlos Gomez and Scooter Gennett.

And although I’m flabbergasted by Roenicke’s stubborness, I am even more shocked that he’s considering Gennett for the position.

I’ve already written about what the Milwaukee Brewers lineup should look like, so I’m not going to drown you with more lines from “The Book.” However, I am going to tell you why Gennett should be one of the last players Roenicke wants in the one-hole.

Roenicke said that he wants a leadoff hitter with an on-base percentage of around .340. That right there should automatically rule Gennett out. Gennett never walks, which means that nearly every time he gets on base, it’s from a hit. Those odds aren’t great. He posted a .320 OBP in 2014 facing almost exclusively  right-handed pitchers, and pair that with the fact he won’t have Rickie Weeks to save him this season, his OBP should/will plummet. Steamer is projecting a .306 OBP for Gennett, while ZiPS has him at .318. Neither of those marks merit a leadoff hitter, or an even average one at that.

A leadoff hitter should be one the team’s best three hitters. So, if we were to look at the Brewers roster, Gomez, Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy should be considered for the spot. I personally would put Lucroy there, but I have no qualm with Gomez there. He has a knack for getting on base (he’s increased his BB% every year he’s been with Milwaukee), has power and speed. Basically everything you want in a top-tier leadoff hitter.

If Roenicke does open his eyes to reality and decides to be flexible with his lineup card, I could see myself getting on board with Gennett batting leadoff versus right handers. I won’t be happy about it as it weakens Milwaukee’s lineup, but it’s better than having him in there every day. Life is about compromises.

 

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The bunting ways of Ron Roenicke

Since Ron Roenicke took over as manager in 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers have bunted an MLB-leading 578 times. And if you’re even somewhat acquainted with sabermetric philosophies, you’re aware that sabermaticians frown on bunting, particularly sacrifice bunting.  Now, if we exclude bunts from pitchers, the above number goes down to 380, which is still crazy high and second-most among major league ball clubs. And Lord knows how many of those were suicide squeezes, Roenicke’s go-to move in the late innings.

Of those 380 bunts, 122 of them have gone for a base hit which is not a bad percentage at all, but that also means the Brewers gave the other team 258 “free” outs. That’s 9.5 games worth of outs and a poor way to waste them. If I were a manager — which I, of course, am not qualified to be — I would outlaw bunting from position players. Pitchers should almost always bunt with runners on with less than two outs, but regular hitters? No way. Why give away outs?

To further that point, sacrifice bunting a runner from first to second with zero outs actually decreases your chance of scoring. A team is expected to score 0.831 runs when they have a runner on first base with no outs, but the run expectancy dwindles to 0.644 runs with a runner on second with one out. A manager is sabotaging his own team when he calls for the sacrifice bunt, and that’s what Roenicke has been doing to the Brewers.

However, in Roenicke’s defense. his team drastically cut down on bunts in 2014. Below are the number of bunts by non-pitchers along with how the Brewers stacked up with the rest of the league since 2011.

Year Bunts MLB Rank
2011 81 13th
2012 120 1st
2013 105 1st
2014 74 9th

Even though the sabermetric movement has made its way inside baseball’s front offices, it doesn’t seem like this aspect of it has reached Milwaukee yet. Still, we cannot assume that every bunt by the Brewers was ordered by Roenicke. Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura, among others, have both laid down plenty of bunts on their own. We can’t blame Roenicke for that, but at the same time, we actually can. If he gives his players free rein to do what they feel is right at the plate, the end result should and does fall on him.

After the epic collapse of the Milwaukee Brewers last season, I was surprised and a little disappointed Roenicke was retained as manager. And not just because of his love for bunts. If 2015 comes and goes without a postseason trip for the Brewers, he’ll most likely be packing his bags, and hopefully a manager with a sabermetric mind will fill his place. Perhaps Gabe Kapler? I dare to dream.

But in the meantime, let’s just hope he keeps pulling back on the bunts.