Tag Archives: Scooter Gennett

Offseason questions surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers

During the 2015-16 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors won 73 games, a number later matched by the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers, which is admittedly more than most people projected. Granted, Counsell’s Crew lost 89 games, but there’s very little credibility to the people who say that this was a lost season. It’s just not true.

Year one of the Milwaukee’s rebuilding plan has come to an end, and there’s probably at least three more seasons of inadequacy still to come. That means there are questions the Brewers need to address, particularly during this offseason.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Will Scooter Gennett be on the Opening Day roster in 2017?

Gennett followed his replacement-level season in 2015 with another forgettable campaign in 2016. His 0.1 WAR was the fifth-worst in Major League Baseball, and although he hit a career-high 14 home runs, he struck out 21% of the time and the worst defensive season of his major league life.

With Orlando Arcia now a mainstay at shortstop, the Brewers may move Jonathan Villar — who struggled at third base — to second, effectively ending Gennet’s time as a Brewer. On the other hand, the Brewers may choose to live with Villar’s incompetence in the hot corner for the time being, seeing as how they really have no other viable option.

 

Will Ryan Braun be traded this winter?

Rumor has it that the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers were extremely close to pulling off a trade that sent Braun to L.A. and Yasiel Puig to Milwaukee. Apparently time ran out and the trade deadline hit, so no agreement was ever reached. The popular thought is, though, that the two teams will engage in discussions again in the winter.

Braun’s contract is a problem for most teams, but for a club like the Dodgers, money is no issue. Braun is coming off a tremendous offensive season (133 wRC+) and proved he’s still one of the game’s top hitters. The Brewers may have no need for him anymore. They’re rebuilding and by the time they’re ready to compete, Braun will be way passed his prime.

Milwaukee absolutely needs to trade him, and they need to do it this winter. But will they?

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Poll: What to do with Jonathan Villar?

Jonathan Villar is playing like a star. I don’t necessarily know if he is a star, but he’s definitely playing like one. A few weeks ago I wrote about how his stardom came from essentially nowhere, and frankly I’m surprised his performance hasn’t tailed off yet.

We’re less than a month away from the All-Star break, and Villar is still riding a .390 on-base percentage thanks in large part to an insane .401 BABIP. He’s MLB’s seventh-best shortstop according to WAR, has created 23% more runs than league average and has stolen more bases than anyone. Being one of the best players on a rebuilding Brewers team, which Villar is, isn’t of much significance, but he’s been more than that. He’s transformed into one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, even with Orlando Arcia‘s shadow cast over him since he arrived in Milwaukee.

Because he’s been so valuable to the Brewers, his future is even more questionable than it once was. It’s obvious that teams will be interested in him as the trade deadline approaches. Yet general manager David Stearns has said that there’s little motivation to trade him, and that makes sense. Villar is a young, controllable talent, and as Stearns stated, that’s the exact type of player the Brewers want right now. Still, trading him could net a sizable return for the same reasons.

If the Brewers decide to hold on to their diamond in the rough, moving him to second base seems likely. Villar’s days at shortstop are numbered and that’s not just because Arcia is almost ready to make his major-league debut. He’s a good defender, yes. That’s evident by his 3 Defensive Runs Saved this season (even though UZR has a drastically different opinion of his fielding abilities), but he’d probably provide more value at second. It’s a much easier position to field and doesn’t require many long throws, something Villar has had a problem with at times this year.

That, though, leaves Scooter Gennett on the outside looking in, and that, honestly, is the way it should be. To be frank, he’s just not a good player, especially in relation to Villar. He lacks OBP skills and his wRC+ has fallen in every season of his career. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gennett traded if the Brewers decide to retain Villar. It would make sense.

Another option for Villar is to take over third base duties when Aaron Hill inevitably leaves, whether that be in free agency this winter or in a trade this season. There’s a low likelihood to that though, in my opinion. He’s shown some surprising power so far, but teams usually want their hot corner guys to be big boppers, and Villar definitely doesn’t fit that label. Stearns may have his own ideas for the position, though.

This dilemma is a good one to have if you’re Milwaukee, and it shows why teams take fliers on players like Villar. You never know what you have until you give them a shot.

The projections: What I got right

As you know, baseball projections, or any projections for that matter, are never a sure thing, especially when they consist of nothing but educated guesses, as mine do. Projection systems like Steamer and ZiPS, which you can find on FanGraphs lovely site, are much more accurate, because they use complicated and in-depth formulas and models to make their decisions on players. As for me, I simply did some research and predicted the results on my own.

But even though my projections were purely guesses, I still had my share of correct calls. Here’s where I went right:

Adam Lind

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .279 18 .353 122 .340 0.181 18.7% 7.8% 1.5
Season Stats .277 20 .351 119 .360 0.183 17.5% 11.5% 2.2

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but I was dead on when it came to projecting LInd. Aside from his on-base percentage and walk rate, I was just one or two points off on every offensive statistic. His WAR was higher than I thought it’d be; credit that to his glove. His 5 Defensive Runs Saved at first base was far and away a career high.

Though it’s not saying much, Lind had one of the best offensive seasons on the Brewers in 2015. He got on base more than any Brewer not named Gerardo Parra, and he rediscovered his power swing after hitting just six home runs a year ago.

2016 outlook: Don’t be surprised if Lind is traded this winter. New general manager David Stearns already cleaned house with the coaching staff and has reorganized the front office. It’s only a matter of time before he starts moving player personnel.

Ryan Braun

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .308 26 .368 140 .378 .220 18.2% 8.9% 4.5
Season Stats .285 25 .366 129 .356 .213 20.2% 9.5% 2.8

Okay, okay, I know there’s a huge discrepancy in Braun’s projected Wins Above Replacement and his actual WAR. I thought he was going to improve at least a little in right field since he had a whole year there under his belt. but he was just as pitiful as he was in 2014.

However, my prediction that he would transform back into one of baseball’s best hitters came true. Braun put up his highest ISO since 2012 and finished 29th in all of baseball in weighted runs created plus.

2016 outlook: With his extension just about to kick in, it’ll be tough to trade Braun, no matter how badly Stearns wants to. Nonetheless, Braun proved he can still hit with the elite, and he should continue that next season.

Scooter Gennett

AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
Projection .268 6 .310 95 .314 .125 17.0% 4.1% 1.4
Season Stats .264 6 .289 77 .294 .117 17.4% 3.1% 0.2

As regular readers know, I’ve never been a fan of Scooter Gennett. Every time I see him at the plate, I shed a tear for the departed Rickie Weeks. Sigh.

I knew Gennett was going to have a below-average season, which is why I’m counting this as a win for my projections. Yet, I didn’t expect him to be so abysmal that I was rooting for Hector Gomez to take over his second-base job. He played no better than a replacement player. Offensively, he was useless, and his defense took a big slide as well.

2016 outlook: Honestly, I can’t imagine Gennett having a major-league job next year. Oh wait. The Brewers are rebuilding, which means Gennett will absolutely be on the team’s roster, unfortunately. Unless Milwaukee is ready to give one of their younger prospects a try. I mean, why not?

Jeremy Jeffress

ERA FIP xFIP SIERA HR K% BB% GB% WAR
Projection 2.62 3.11 3.00 2.59 4 21.9% 9.6% 57.4% 1.0
Season Stats 2.65 3.22 3.00 2.85 5 23.5% 7.7% 58.2% 0.8

Before the season started, I wrote that Jeremy Jeffress would be MLB’s next top closer sometime in the near future, and after the stand-out numbers he racked together as the setup man in 2015, I’m even more confident in saying that. I called this one almost perfectly.

Jeffress is a strikeout and ground-ball pitcher, and he proved that over a full season for the first time in his career. He struck out almost nine batters per game and his GB% was the 17th-best among qualified relievers, mostly due to his power sinker.

2016: Jeffress will again be Craig Counsell‘s go-to-guy in high leverage situations next season, and he even could slide into the closer’s role if the Brewers choose to shed money and a veteran by trading Francisco Rodriguez.

 

You can check out my full list of projections here:

Hitters

Pitchers

Flipping Luis Sardinas might be in the cards

The Milwaukee Brewers acquired Luis Sardinas as part of the trade that sent Yovani Gallardo to Texas. And with Scooter Gennett being demoted to the minors, along with Hector Gomez and Elian Herrera doing very little positive things at the plate, Sardinas was called up maybe earlier than what people expected. In 32 games in Triple-A, Sardinas posted a .324 OBP and created 10% fewer runs than league average. In other words, he didn’t do much with the bat that warranted a promotion; however, his Triple-A numbers as a player in the Brewers’ organization were better than they were as a Triple-A player with Texas.

After a hot start with the big-league club, Sardinas has slowed down and has become the player most scouts have him pegged as. He’s good with the glove (although Defensive Runs Saved has yet to see that), but very below-average offensively. He has yet to walk this season, and is striking out at a 23.8% clip. Plus, his lack of power is unsettling.

Sardinas is a shortstop by trade, but unluckily for him, the Brewers already have one of those in Jean Segura. And no, the Brewers are not about to give up on Segura. Milwaukee also has a stud shortstop in Double-A right now in Orlando Arcia. Arcia, by the way, is currently taking the league by storm. ESPN’s scout guy Keith Law recently ranked him as baseball’s 20th-best prospect. He’s so talented that Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Todd Rosiak suggested the Brewers might move Segura to third base in order to make room for Arcia. They might not need to do that if Arcia can man second, but as of now, that’s not in the plans.

Sardinas is capable of handling second base, which makes him a bit more valuable, but do the Brewers really want three infielders — Segura, Arcia and Sardinas — who have absolutely no pop or power in their bats? I would be very surprised if the infield shaped up like that in the future. The Brewers have a hard enough time as it is scoring runs.

That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if Sardinas is wearing a different uniform come August.

It basically comes down to this: who has the higher ceiling, Sardinas or Gennett? The Brewers will probably trade one of them, if not both, and I think Sardinas would offer the greatest return. He’s younger, is a better defender and can switch-hit, meaning there’s no need to platoon him like a team would and has done with Gennett. Milwaukee would, however, need to demand a power-hitting third baseman or a second baseman with at least gap power. When Aramis Ramirez retires after the season, the Brewers will be in desperate need of someone in the infield who is capable of producing runs.

Sardinas might be the ticket that grants that wish.

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.

 

Hitter projections for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers

It’s that time of year again, when projections are being unleashed and the biased trolls of the internet emerge from their caves. I love it.

People say that projections are like throwing darts at a dart board and hoping it sticks where you want it too. Well, if that’s the case, then the dart’s trajectory has been calculated countless of times and the dart board is bigger than the average one. Projection systems, like Steamer and ZiPS, are the most accurate darts we currently have at our disposable. So many components (i.e. park factors, age, injury history, talent) play into their forecasts that it’s asinine not to put at least a little merit in them.

With that being said, my projections are not based on a mathematical model. My brain doesn’t possess the functionality it requires to build one or to even interpret simple mathematical equations. For someone who is so invested in sabermetrics, I don’t know a lick of math. So, there’s my warning about my projections.

On the other hand, my projections are more than just guess work. I’ve poured over each player’s statistical history, taken injuries and age into account, looked at splits, went over other projection systems and basically every other thing I could possibly do to make sure my projections were well-informed.

Here are my hitter projections for the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers (subject to change before the season commences).

Position Name AVG HR wOBA wRC+ OBP ISO K% BB% WAR
C Jonathan Lucroy .303 13 .370 131 .377 .159 10.3% 11.4% 4.9
1B Adam Lind .279 18 .353 122 .340 .181 18.7% 7.8% 1.5
2B Scooter Gennett .268 6 .310 95 .314 .125 17.0% 4.1% 1.4
3B Aramis Ramirez .280 16 .324 110 .330 .138 15.0% 6.5% 1.9
SS Jean Segura .255 5 .295 79 .310 .090 12.3% 5.5% 1.3
OF Khris Davis .257 19 .335 112 .308 .208 20.6% 5.2% 1.1
OF Carlos Gomez .287 22 .366 131 .350 .193 22.1% 7.7% 5.3
OF Ryan Braun .308 26 .368 140 .378 .220 18.2% 8.9% 4.5
OF Gerardo Parra .270 5 .309 86 .312 .122 17.7% 7.0% 1.0
C Martin Maldonado .241 3 .311 97 .322 .137 22.0% 9.1% 0.4
INF Elian Herrera .231 0 .269 66 .274 .071 25.4% 3.4% -0.3
OF Logan Schafer .210 1 .250 51 .281 .099 19.8% 7.7% -0.2
OF Shane Peterson .271 3 .315 98 .329 .100 24.0% 9.1% 0.2
INF Luis Jimenez .236 1 .270 79 .276 .115 21.0% 2.1% -0.3
Total   .264 138 .318 100 .322 .140 18.9% 6.8% 22.7

As an offense, the Brewers will be right around league average, which is an upgrade from 2014. The team’s OBP and wOBA should be slightly better, thanks to a hopefully healthy Braun and with Lind now in the fold. However, walk rate will continue to haunt the Brewers.

I have only two players reaching the 20 home run plateau, but Khris Davis and even Lind could easily hit that number. Davis will need to improve on the changeup, though.

There are a few other players I’d like to talk more about to give you a better understanding of why I believe they’ll perform like my projections predict.

Ryan Braun

A lot of Braun’s struggles last season can be blamed on his thumb, and if you think performance-enhancing drugs had anything to do with it, you clearly didn’t watch enough Brewers’ games. And that’s not me being biased. I’ll never wear his jersey again because of what he did. His thumb numbness made it hard for him to pull the ball, and he would roll over on it more times than not. Braun’s career average when pulling the ball sits at .406, but he hit just .298 on balls to left field in ’14. Imagine swinging at an inside pitch without being able to feel your thumb. It just sounds brutal. If Braun’s thumb is healthy (all signs point to that it is), he should return to MVP-form. His WAR would’ve been higher if not for his lackluster defense in right field (-6.6 UZR).

Carlos Gomez

As long as the Brewers compete, Gomez has a real chance to take home the 2015 MVP award. His projected 5.3 WAR is the highest on the Brewers, not only because I believe his walk rate (and in turn his OBP ) will increase, but because his defensive stats should get a boost after an uncharacteristically low performance last season.

Scooter Gennett

I went more in-depth of my expected woes for Gennett here, but the fact is, he can’t hit left-handed pitchers. Everyone keeps bringing up the small sample size argument, which is just fine and dandy until you look at his numbers against southpaws in the minors. There’s no small sample size there, and he was terrible. Gennett can “laugh at his splits” all he wants, but being without a platoon partner is really going to hurt him, and the Brewers will regret not finding one if they, in fact, end up sticking with him. Frankly, Gennett will be a below-average hitter in 2015.

Adam Lind

Acquiring Lind was maybe the best low-key acquisition of the winter. Finally, the Brewers have someone to shore up first base, and finally, the Brewers have a left-handed power hitter who can actually get on base (.369 OBP over the last two seasons). His 7.8% walk rate would be a welcome site to a lineup that doesn’t walk. I like Lind a little more than Steamer does when it comes to OBP and wOBA, but Steamer projects him to have 21 home runs while I have him hitting 18. His horrible defense will cost the Brewers a few runs/wins, which is why I have him as a 1.5 win player.

Shane Peterson

Peterson’s my sleeper, and should ultimately replace Schafer on the bench (fingers crossed). Peterson’s one of those rare players that can man center field, and then move to first base the next day. Versatile is the word. He has pop in his bat and should maintain a somewhat okay OBP in spite of his Mount Everest strikeout rate.

 

There you have it. My pitcher projections will be out in the next couple of days as well, so make sure you give them a good look over as you wait for this monstrosity of a winter to be over.

If you have any questions about my projections, please comment or find me on Twitter

Brewers should try for Nick Punto

Nick Punto is entering his age-37 season and his coming off an abysmal season at the plate, so it was really no surprise the Oakland Athletics released him today.

But one team’s trash is another team’s treasure, and that’s what Punto could be for the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers greatly need to improve their bench, with the departures of Rickie Weeks and Lyle Overbay devastating it, and incumbents Elian Herrera and Logan Schafer providing little value.

Punto and Herrera are similar in that they both are utility men who can play any infield position (with the exception of first base). Punto, however, is the superior defender and has the better bat despite being on the brink of retirement. Steamer is projecting Punto to be worth 0.3 WAR in 2015, while Herrera is projected at -0.1. Even at 37, Punto has more upside than the soon-to-be 30 Herrera. That’s got to tell you something.

Furthermore, both of the players are switch hitters, but while Herrera is best from the left side of the plate, Punto’s advantage comes from the opposite side. And with Scooter Gennett in need of a platoon partner, Punto has the upper hand over Herrera.

Punto isn’t going to hit much, and we should all be aware of that by now. He’s only accumulated four seasons in which he posted a wOBA higher than .300, and has only been above league average in terms of runs created once. But Milwaukee doesn’t need him to be an offensive superstar. They need a sound defender who can start during the rare times the team faces a lefty and who can maybe draw a couple of walks (11.2 BB% in ’14). Punto would also serve as a reliable fill-in if Gennett or Jean Segura would go down with injury.

The most important thing to remember is that Punto will surely be better than Herrera next season. For that reason alone, the Brewers should have interest.