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.

25 Responses

  1. Tom Mitsoff

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

    • Ashley Davis

      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.

      • Indy Red Man

        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.

  2. james garrett

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

    • ScottyA

      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.

  3. Ashley Davis

    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.

  4. Scott Carter

    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.

  5. Chuck Schick

    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.

    • Indy Red Man

      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.

  6. PLAYTOWIN

    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.

    • sixpacktwo

      Cozart’s value will only go up if a team needs a SS and that team is going to the playoffs.

      • Chuck Schick

        Given that his trade value is about 0 right now an increase still doesn’t return much

  7. Andy

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

  8. sixpacktwo

    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.

    • Broseph

      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.

  9. Jack

    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 .

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    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.

  11. Dewey Roberts

    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.

  12. AndyW10

    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.

  13. Tom Mitsoff

    I was curious about Scooter’s defensive ratings, based on REDSFAN06’s comment above. Fangraphs has what they call Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR): http://www.fangraphs.com/library/defense/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:
    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=10339&position=2B

    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.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I just noted Patrick Jeter’s post above with his perspective. I didn’t see it before I made the post immediately above.

  14. Abdul

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