Last season, the Reds bench was bad. Really bad. In 228 plate appearances, Reds pinch hitters hit .214/.270/.277, with 44 hits, 16 walks and 12 runs scored. Pinch hitters for the Reds in 2017 are hitting .252/.287/.408 with 26 hits, five walks and eight runs scored in 109 plate appearances. While not the biggest improvement, it’s an upgrade from 2016.

One reason for the improvement has been Scooter Gennett, the 27-year-old utility infielder whom the Reds claimed off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of spring training. Throughout the first half of 2017, he’s provided much-needed help off the bench and as a fill-in replacement for anyone who goes on the disabled list.

In 199 plate appearances this season, Gennett is hitting .301/.347/.575, including an OPS of .921 and 12 home runs, 11 doubles, 34 runs scored, and 42 RBI. He also established himself in the Reds record books when he became the first Red and just the 17th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in one game on June 6. Gennett is on pace to shatter his career home run record of 14. Even without the four homer game in June, Gennett likely would still surpass it. Gennett’s wRC+ in 2017 is 136, far and away the best of his five year career. Yes, he’s had less playing time, which means a smaller sample size, but it means he is making the most of the playing time he is getting, whether as a pinch hitter or a starter.

Gennett hits better when he is in the starting lineup, and he’s actually started more games, though that’s due to Zack Cozart’s recent DL stint. As a pinch hitter, Gennett is just 2-for-18, with an OPS of .222 in 18 games. When starting, his batting average is over .300 and his OPS over 1.000 in 32 games.

If there’s something to criticize with Gennett’s play, it’s that he has drawn only 11 walks and has struck out 45 times. His BB% of 5.5 is not the lowest of his career, but his K% shows a steady climb from 14.1% in 2014 to 22.6 this season. His BABIP for 2017 is .341, which could be another factor to his success.

However, those criticisms are not enough to trump the good things Gennett has done for the Reds and it boggles my mind that the Milwaukee Brewers released Gennett at the end of spring training without trying to trade him. Looking at his numbers, Gennett was never a horrible player. Even in spring training this year, he was hitting .316/.366/.500, with an OPS of .866, seven doubles, and seven runs scored in 14 games.

Gennett was mostly an everyday player at second base for the Brewers in 2016. In 136 games (542 plate appearances), Gennett hit .263/.317/.412 with an OPS of .728. He had a career high 14 home runs, 30 doubles, 56 RBI and 58 runs scored. He walked 38 times and struck out 114 times. At 91, his wRC+ last season was below average, but not by much (average is 100).

To get Gennett for nothing was an absolute steal for the Reds. But the Brewers loss is the Reds gain, and though he’ll never be an elite player and likely not even an All-Star (though I can’t say never after that 4-HR night and Cozart’s first All-Star appearance as a 31-year-old), Gennett has made a solid addition to the bench. The Reds control Gennett’s contract through 2020, so it would not be out of the question to see him as a part of the rebuild moving forward.

Join the conversation! 44 Comments

  1. Timely article Ashley as it is becoming more apparent the Reds may be re-evaluating their middle infield situation as we hit the half way point of the season.
    An extension of Cozart with Scooter as a regular starter at 2b moves the Reds into a consistent top performing offensive NL team. Peraza is a wonderful super sub and utility player who can play a lot of backup SS and 2b and fill in for the inevitable 10 day DL somewhere. Gennett has some versatility as well and is a great pickup by the FO.

    When do we see Gennett #4 jerseys in the gift shop?

    • Yes, I agree that the Reds are going to have to make a decision on their middle infield. I’m not ready to fully give up on Peraza yet (he’s still very young), but his inability to draw a walk and be patient at the plate is concerning.

      If the Reds were to extend Cozart, I don’t think it should be more than 3 years. He’s already 31, so anymore than three years would be more of a hindrance to the Reds, I think.

    • Not impressed with Peraza at all. I thought the Reds made a mistake by making him the key piece in one of their trades. Why? What did our scouts see in him? He has a terrible swing and will probably never change. Usually players don’t change their swing at this age. He hardly ever walks. I wouldn’t call him a super sub. He has no outstanding skill that makes him a super sub.

  2. 2017 is Scooter’s age 27 season. I believe the Reds should try to sign him to a four year deal (remaining arb time+2 years of FA). At worst he would be their “9th regular”, the guy who plays 4 or 5 days a week at multiple positions to help keep everyone else fresh.

    • Realistically, Winker is the only minor league position player ready to play.

      The catching duo of Mes and Barnhart give you a solid catcher 162 games.
      Using Peraza as a super sub gives you a solid infield 162 games.
      Adding Winker to the outfield and using them in the right roles and batting order ensures a solid outfield 162 games.
      The bullpen is solid for 162 games.

      Sign Cozart to a team friendly 3 year deal( 3 years is not a “long” contract) and give him a signing bonus now to reward this great year and eliminate any notion of going past 2020. Sign Scooter so he’s not killing the Reds in arbitration and bring up Winker.

      Then, all aspects of this team are rebuilt…..except 1.

      • Then, we somehow find some dirt on the Commissioner, Clayton Kershaw, and Chris Sale that would allow us to acquire their contracts for pennies on the dollar without giving anything up! 🙂 That fixes the last part of the rebuild!

      • If Cozart is signed for three years then we move Peraza to center and trade Hamilton. We need starting Pitchers to go forward. I think our on field ‘D’ and hitting is there. Winkler is traded if he can bring a young, good pitcher, because where do you play him, as left field is maned by ‘D’ and power.

        • What you suggest weakens the D, though, possibly substantially.

        • The optimism of Cozart signing with the Reds is nice although I think there is no way he goes for 3 years on a team friendly contract. All star season and another All Star season prior to injury is going to push his salary.

          The middle infield is an interesting problem. I’m of the thought that Gennett should be a Dan Straily player. Get him for nothing and trade him while his value is high and really shoot for a 2019 – 2022 window.

          Remember, you have Senzel probably on the roster in 2019 and Suarez under team control. I’d take those two over Gennett who will only decline from here probably.

  3. Anyone have any numbers on his defensive analytics at second base? Has he played enough games there to have any reliable numbers?

    • The opinion of just about everyone I read on a regular basis is that defensive metrics need more than a full season to have any sort of reliability at all (some say 3 seasons). Which means “no” for Scooter this year. But, since he hasn’t reached physical decline age, we should be able to look at his whole career to paint a decent picture…

      From the DRS perspective, he’s at -6 for his career at 2B. Not terrible, but slightly below average. The entirety of that -6 comes from his ability to turn double plays. What this means is he’s involved in fewer double plays (starting and turning) than an average 2B when controlling for things like opportunities.

      From a UZR perspective, he’s at -4.4 per 150 games, which is a little worse than the DRS prognosis. Again, one of the main culprits here is his ability to turn double plays. Also, he has a pretty healthy negative adjustment for errors made, which means he commits more errors than average 2Bman. His range factor is slightly above average, so he’s getting to a decent amount of balls.

      From a RZR (revised zone rate) perspective, his .772 is average-ish, meaning he makes plays on an average amount of balls hit to his zone. With large samples, I really like this metric, because you can assume each player is getting a similar amount of hard hit grounders in the hole, up the middle, bad hops, etc. Compare that to the last GG winner (LeMahieu @ .802 RZR) and Gennett makes 3% fewer plays than a gold glover. Not terrible, I’d say.

      All in all, if you factor in his 2B metrics, along with his seeming ability to play adequate at 3B, LF, and RF, I’d say he has the value of a “solid average” defensive player. Not the kind of player who you bring in as a defensive sub late in games; hopefully your starters at 2B and SS are better than he is (which they are currently).

    • He has 242.2 innings at 2B this year. He hasn’t been great. His UZR is 1.1, and that’s a drastic improvement from last year. For defensive runs saved, it’s at -2, which isn’t too great either.

      • His WAR is 1.5…………a counting number …….and measure of overall productivity…….when he has played far less than Peraza. The eye test last weekend showed he had a great relay throw and several plays going past 2b across his body.
        Jose Peraza’s WAR is a negative 0.1 playing every day.

        Suarez and Votto have made big rebounds defensively this year.
        I think you can improve defensively. I don’t think you can learn plate discipline or how to hit in the big leagues.

        • Cozart says you can pickup some plate discipline but Peraza will be working for Uber if he has to reach his 30s to figure it out.

  4. Sign him and put him at second until somebody takes the job away from him.

    • 2B has a plethora of prospects working their way through the upper minors right now. I don’t want to get too excited about Scooter and over-extend his contract with team control through arbitration alreay in place. He’s having a great season since joining the Reds, but keep the sample size and his career stats in mind. His power surge has been welcome, but I’m not seeing any fundamental change to make me think he has become a different hitter from what he’s been. What I do like is the option he can provide at 2B beyond relying on Peraza until reenforcements arrive from AAA to claim the 2B job on a more permanent basis.

      • Agree. He is not a free agent till 2020 Scooter has plenty of batting skills to stay as our utility player & backup second baseman till he is a free agent. Herrera is beginning to hit as he always has.

      • 100% agree with this. Well said.

        I’m anxious to see how Long adjusts to AA. It is said to be the hardest jump in the minors. Senzel has started to turn a slow start around. I’m hoping Long will soon. Blandino’s initial production at AAA is nice as well. 2014 Comp pick for Choo, maybe the switch has flipped for him. Herrera’s hitting much better as the season’s progressed as well. Lots to sort here in the next two years still. But it’s good to have good options.

  5. I like Scooter – local, fun to watch, enhances the bench, acquired for nothing except a roster spot. On the other hand, career walk rate of only 5%, not a great defender. This season is small sample size heaven and includes a rising strikeout rate. His ability to play multiple positions solidly and pinch hit need to develop for him to be a high end utility player, as neither are yet proven.

  6. Scooter has taken advantage of the shorter right and left field lines, (though granted he has hit several in the anger portions of the stadium). I like him because he plays hard and even though he is not flashy he normally makes the plays he should and because of overall effort makes some pretty good plays. He has been a great pick up for Reds. However he is not going to be the Reds second baseman of the future. Sign him for maybe up to three years, though I would prefer two. But Shed Long and Dilson Herrera are on the way and when Senzel gets here we have to either trade Suarez or find a place for him to play.

  7. He’s played well, they don’t owe him a dime after this year and he didn’t cost anything so it’s been a succesful transaction.

    If they send Peraza to AAA to work on his plate discipline, they can play Scooter every day to see what he can do. While teams make mistakes, this version of the Brewers FO seems reasonably competent so the fact that they just gave him away is at least a red flag.

    At best, he’s a late bloomer who is likely an average player. At worst, he’s a utility player.

    Find out what he can do and see if Perraza can at least not suck. He’s earned the right to see if his performance is real…but the sampling is too small to buy out his arbitration years as there is a decent possibility that he’s Doug Flynn.

    • I think you’re on the right track! They could accomplish a few things in the 2nd half that might be productive. Scooter has a career .520 ops vs lefties so bring up Dixon (957 ops vs lefties this year) or Herrera to platoon with him and give them some big league atbats. I think that platoon could be pretty good at 2b? Peraza can play everyday at Lville and try to work on his swing. Winker suddenly leading off for Lville has to mean something as well? Billy is what he is (and isn’t) but Winker vs ML pitching is an unknown so find out.

  8. Scooter’s value, like Cozart’s, has never been higher. Best to trade them both for a cache of prospects like Herrera, Peraza, Finnegan and Reed…

    … or maybe sign both long-term instead.

    • Your reply would read a whole lot different if it read “prospects like Duvall, Suarez, and Schebler.”

    • Don’t give up on Herrera yet. He really can hit. His shoulder seems sound as well. He is currently on the DL due to a concussion from an odd collision.

      • If he’s on the DL, he’ll probably be lost for the season – you know, because of bad luck or a bad training staff.

  9. It is better to have choices than have none. Dilson Herrera deserves a chance assuming he is healthy. It is troubling the Reds have not found a trading partner for Cozart. I guess all teams see the same issues we all see. 32 years old next season with some injuries and a current season way out of pattern with past history. Peraza can learn to be more selective. Whether he has the discipline to do it is the question. He has a quick bat which shows potential. The Reds are loaded with middle infielders in the minors. Can Winker show enough power to be a regular corner outfielder in the majors? They are expected to be 20+ HR types. 1B, 3B, LF, RF are the power positions. It is gravy when it comes from the other spots and those teams win assuming at least average pitching.

  10. Talking to my friends here in Wisconsin after Scooter’s 4 homerun game, they asked if he is still dropping balls a lot. That seemed to be his weakness in the field.

    The Brewers did try to trade him and found no takers. While he has a reasonable pay check, it was probably viewed as full value for a slightly below average fielding and hitting 2B. It worked out for the Reds to pick him up for the right price.

    I think the Reds should hold on to him. They don’t have an obvious answer for a starting 2B of the future yet. Peraza is young, but 5 walks in 312 PA (1.6%)? That might be difficult to correct. The Reds should send him to Louisville and bring up Winker to get a read on the future.

    • Like Scooters 2 bobbles yesterday thst not one person commented about? But loved his Homer and 2 singles. Go figure . Don’t get me wrong here I love his hitting but what we seen in the field yesterday is what we will get .

    • We are clearly seeing that Gennett is not the answer defensively at second. You have to have a great glove there first and foremost, and that is not him. The next question is whether Dilson Herrera offers any better defense, which I cannot answer, not having seen him play over any period of time.

      Where in Wisconsin are you, Redsfan06? I’m in Madison.

      • I live in Oconomowoc.

      • Appleton was my home for 5 years. Still have seats at the ‘Beau, section 115.

        • Cool! Anyone else? 🙂

          • I’m from Cincinnati originally – College Hill. Watched the Big Red Machine growing up. Been in Wisconsin for 23 years. Still not adjusted to the winters. I was probably one of the happiest baseball fans in the state when the Brewers switched from the AL to the NL Central.

            We ought to try to get a RLN group together to go to a Reds game when they are in town.

  11. My only question is why Peraza is still the starting second baseman. Gennett has been absolutely killing it, and it seems like he’s been a huge spark plug for the rest of the offense when he is in the game.
    I understand the Peraza is still young, this being his age 23 season, but he is struggling this year. He’s hitting .250/.276/.327, with virtually no power and struggling in the clutch, leading the league in double plays hit into. I think it’s time to make Gennett the #1 guy at 2B.

    • You did a good job answering your own question: ‘Peraza is still young’.
      Gennett background:
      – over 200 games in 2013-14 to get adjusted to the majors (and for opponents to adjust to him)
      – 250 games in 2015-16 and over 900 PA (sample size at which offensive stats solidify): wRC+ of 85 (below average) with a .263 BA and OBP of only .311 (below average)
      – see Patrick’s post above: below average to average defensively
      Overall, despite a hot streak, the Reds probably feel like they know Scooter’s upside, and it’s not very ‘up’. The Reds scouts liked Peraza. While they could be wrong, and he may not develop, his upside is still intact after only a few hundred at-bats. I, too, am very concerned about Peraza’s performance, but hope he can learn from the shortstop in front of him how to lay off bad pitches and do better at finding his pitch. We’ll see.

  12. Gennett has been a great pickup but this is as good as he’s going to get and quite frankly, he’s playing over his head some. He still struggles mightily to hit LHP and always has. He is, at his best, the big half of a platoon at 2B. At his worst, he is a solid utility player. His ability to play some 3B and the corner OF slots increase his value. I love what he’s done but lets not go overboard. He’s been a great pickup but he’s not really a star player and over 500+ PA, his numbers won’t be near what we’re seeing in this career year (so far).

  13. I was curious about Scooter’s defensive ratings, based on REDSFAN06’s comment above. Fangraphs has what they call Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR):

    UZR/150 is that statistic projected over the average number of chances for a season.

    Scooter’s UZR/150 has regressed substantially since his rookie year in Milwaukee:

    For his career as a second baseman, his UZR/150 is -4.8. Comparing apples to apples, Jose Peraza’s career number as a second baseman is -2.4 (in many fewer innings). Brandon Phillips’ career number is +6.9. Dilson Herrera’s in parts of two seasons with the Mets is +9.7.

    Some of the folks here who know much more about these numbers than I do can offer some perspective. But it seems to me that if you’re looking to build the next winning Reds team, you’d only have a guy with Gennett’s defensive rating starting at second base in an emergency or the absolute failure of the farm system to produce a defensively sound second baseman.

    I love the way Gennett is hitting, but I’m not on board yet with installing him as the second baseman with the long term in mind. In recent games, he has missed some chances that didn’t look all that difficult based on what we’re used to seeing from Phillips.

  14. Scooter needs to be playing every day. Sit Paraza, please.

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2017 Reds


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