Scooter Gennett: the man, the myth, the legend. Flash in the pan or bonafide MLB All-Star? By now it shouldn’t even be a question if Scooter Gennett is a quality MLB player or not. He’s backed up a really good 2017 with an arguably better 2018. He leads the NL in average and is 2nd among qualified NL second baseman in OBP, slugging, OPS, WAR, and wRC+. Simply put, Scooter Gennett has been the 2nd best offensive second baseman in the National League this season.

People have their reservations about Scooter Gennett and how he fits in with the Reds’ future because of his age, his position flexibility, and how he performed in his first four years in the league compared to his last two. In his first four years with the Brewers Scooter posted an OPS of .738. Based on Bill James’ OPS scale that OPS would classify Scooter as a D (average) hitter. Fast forward to 2018 and Scooter has had an OPS of .883 in his last two seasons with the Reds. Based on that same OPS scale this would put Scooter in the upper half of the B (very good) classification.

This jump in OPS is rare, but nothing new. I was curious to see just how often it happens and who has done it over the years. Basically, I wanted to know how many and which players, like our boy Scooter, had an OPS at least .136 points higher in the fifth year of their careers compared to the first four years of their careers. To accomplish this feat I downloaded Lahman’s Baseball Database, threw it into a SQL database, and ran some custom queries against it to get the data set that I was looking for.

Note: We aren’t doing Scooters 2018 OPS (which is actually even BETTER than his 2017 OPS) because Lahman’s database doesn’t have 2018 data yet.

Below are the data parameters that I used:

  • Main stat being compared is OPS (I had to calculate this myself, it wasn’t in the Lahman database)
  • Players who made their debut after 1960 (you gotta cut it off somewhere, right?)
  • Players who were 23 years of age (Scooter’s age) or younger when they made their debut
  • Players with a minimum of 1,526 at bats (Scooter’s number of at bats) in their first 4 seasons
  • Players with an OPS that was at least .136 higher in their fifth year than the WEIGHTED average of their OPS in the first 4 years of their career.

And for the results (drum roll, please):


So, what does this data tell us? Since 1960 there have been only 15 players under the age of 24 that have posted an OPS at least .136 higher in the fifth year of their careers compared to their first four years. That’s pretty remarkable. You may recognize some of the names on the list: Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, Vlad Guerrero, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, and…Scooter Gennett.

What’s also interesting to note is that there were only 4 others who did it at age 27 (Mike Moustakas, Marcell Ozuna, Chuck Knoblauch, Anthony Rendon). Another interesting tidbit – Scooter started with the 4th lowest OPS of the bunch (.738) and many of the bigger names on this list (Bonds, Jeter, Griffey, Vlad) went from a good or great OPS to an even better one.

It’s an interesting list of players, to say the least. One of the more interesting pieces of analysis on this data is going to be how these same players performed a number of years after their OPS jump, especially those guys who started at an average or below average OPS number and then hit the +.136 OPS at a later age (like Scooter).

So, there you have it. What Scooter Gennett has done in his career is rare. Finding examples of players and how their comparable age, OPS jump, and beginning OPS translated into future play is even rarer. We will analyze this in part 2 which may give us some insights on how exactly the Reds should handle Scooter Gennett’s future. That being said, its pretty impressive what Scooter has done this year coming off of such a high OPS jump from his first four years in the league to his fifth. He’s not only backed up the increased production from a year ago but has exceeded it.

Until then, keep fighting the good fight fellow Scooter fans!

20 Responses

  1. bouwills

    Scooter isn’t regressing, but he’s past his prime. He’s 10 months older than Suarez, 7 months older than Barnhart, 5 months older than Schebler, 4 months older than Hamilton, & 3 weeks older than DeSclafani. They;ll be calling him Geritol Gennett next season, right?

    • bouwills

      I haven’t a clue. It’s the only sarcastic handle I could think of at the time. Actually, I consider Scooter the most indispensable Reds position player for 2019.

  2. Michael Smith

    Wouldn’t by definition Scooter be in the middle of his prime? 27-30?

    • Jeff Gangloff

      Scooter has a higher OPS on the road this year (.889) compared to at home (.866).

      • Michael Smith

        beat me to it. Great American inflates HR numbers while actually hurting singles thru triples and scores out as a neutral stadium.

      • TXRedleg - Mike C

        Let’s hear them and then see how his numbers are inflated. The AL West teams wouldn’t want him because they have tied up guys already (Cano, Altuve, Odor). The Angels have overspent and have a likely future 2B in Fletcher and the A’s will never spend big bucks on a guy like Scooter even if Lowrie leaves as a FA. Scooter is really more of a line drive hitter, not exactly a huge HR hitter, so I don’t see how the big park plays against him. Isn’t he like 2nd in the NL in singles, behind Peraza?

  3. KDJ

    Thanks for all the work you put into this article. It is an interesting list and a lot of good company.

  4. jreis

    boy it would be nice if more people showed up to the games we could keep scooter AND play Senzel. but we can only keep one so I vote for Senzel just because he is more athletic and a better baserunner. we need to add speed to our team where we can.

    • G-Man

      JReis, I like your posts, so keep on posting, but I always know before reading them that you will undoubtedly mention “speed” as the centerpiece of your post. 🙂

  5. BigRedMike

    Bad organizations, like the Reds, instead of realizing that they have received great production for a low contract for 2-3 years and have a similar cost controlled player ready to replace – will sign the player to a significantly higher contract with the strong potential for lower production.

    As others noted when people bring up Yelich, does Gennett pitch?

  6. Mason Red

    Scooter receives little love despite being a bright spot in what’s been a miserable miserable MISERABLE season. He is the least of the worries this franchise has at the moment.

    • BigRedMike

      Gennett has had a very good season. He is not a worry, but, he is an issue that the Organization needs to figure out. Part of being a good Organization is being able to project performance and match that up with the salary level comfort. Whether a particular player is receiving the appropriate level of love is completely irrelevant.

      A team like the Reds with 4 straight 90+ loss seasons has a lot of worries. How to address all those worries is impacted by decisions made in regards to the players on these bad teams.

  7. G-Man

    I know this might be splitting hairs Sliotar, but Scooter is 28 years old.

  8. Nick Carrington

    This is an honest question: what does the ballpark have to do with BBs? The Reds have had terrible pitchers for three years. That would seem to be the biggest factor in walks.

  9. David

    A good comp for Scooter Gennett might be Edgardo Alfonso (from the list above). I do recall that during his career, he became a lot more pitch selective, or improved his pitch recognition.

    And just for your own amusement, you could look at the change in Joe Morgan’s statistics for his years with the Astros, versus his years with the Reds. A big step change, and after more time in the majors.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    Jeff, very interesting information. I am in the camp of people who believes that Scooter’s performance over the past two years is not some sort of fluke or mirage. Your point that some players can improve significantly after a few years of experience is very revealing, as is the names of the players on that list.

    I do believe that either Gennett or Senzel (probably Senzel) will play the outfield next year. It’s my impression that many fans believe that since he was a below-average player when he was acquired on waivers, he is destined to return to that status soon. Jeff’s data points out that such a reversal is not guaranteed, since his list includes some of the best players of all time.

    If equal value at a position of need (like starting pitching) can be acquired for Gennett, I’m all for it. But trading him for lesser value just to get him out of Senzel’s way would be a step in the wrong direction.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      I agree with most of what you said. A lot of extending Scooter a few years depends on position flexibility…which I’m not sure the Reds have.

  11. Bill j

    I don’t get all the talk of Scooter or Senzel going to the outfield, who will they dump, Winker, Hamilton or Schebler?

  12. David

    Well, they certainly would have given Billy the heave-ho a long time ago.

    As someone else said, Scooter is not even close to being a problem, but it is an issue to be resolved. I have no idea what his actual trade value is, or what the Reds could get for him.

    Get rid of Billy, let Senzel play Right Field, and some second and third, when they want to spell Suarez
    And keep Dilson as something of a utility guy too. He can play some outfield (badly) and could also play some 2nd and 3rd (badly). And he can hit.

    I am not that big on Blandino. He was a top draft choice and a nice guy, but he has not shown that much either up here or in the minors.