Last week we kicked off this series by looking at how Eugenio Suarez performed on pitches inside and outside of the strikezone. In short: He was very good by comparison to the league at both. Today we are going to examine how Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett performed on pitches that would have been balls, or strikes, had he not swung at them.
In the 2018 season, Scooter Gennett put together another strong offensive season. He hit .310/.357/.490 with 30 doubles, 3 triples, and 23 home runs. The overall numbers weren’t quite as strong as the were the previous year, as his OPS dropped by 27 points. But his OPS+, which is adjusted for the ballparks played in, was actually 1 point better than in 2017.
For his career, Scooter Gennett has been a hitter who swings at pitches out of the strikezone quite a bit. His 39.1% “out of the zone swing rate” ranks 345th out of 377 players with at least 1000 at-bats since 2013 (when Gennett debuted). He’s one of the more aggressive swingers in baseball on pitches out of the zone. In 2018 he swung at non-strikes 40.3% of the time. The league average was 30.9%, meaning he swung at pitches out of the zone nearly 33% more frequently than the average hitter did. What also happened was that he made more contact on pitches out of the zone, too – jumping to 74.7% in 2018 – up from 71.0% in 2017. That’s much higher than the league average, which was only 62.8%.
On pitches in the strikezone Scooter Gennett also upped his swing rate in 2018. Sort of. 2017 saw him post a career low 63.9% in-zone swing rate. 2018 saw a jump up to 66.0%, but that was still the second lowest rate of his career. That’s close to the league average rate, which was 67.3% during the 2018 campaign.
When Scooter Gennett got strikes, he hit them very well. On pitches inside of the strikezone that he swung at, he hit .364 and slugged .575. His .364 average on pitches in the zone was best among the Reds hitters in 2018 who had any sort of real playing time. His isolated power of .211 (slugging minus average) was middle of the pack for the team.
What set Scooter Gennett apart among Cincinnati hitters was what he was able to do on non-strikes during 2018. He swung at a lot of them, but he found some marginal success, too. He hit .255 on them – best on the team. And he slugged .401, also best on the team. And that wasn’t close.
The chart above shows a comparison of how Scooter Gennett hit both in and out of the strikezone. He’s certainly better out of the zone than anyone else on the Reds. But even so, he’s still a significantly better hitter on pitches in the zone than he is on ones out of the zone. If he can be a little more patient and cut down on pitches out of the zone he swings at, he’d likely improve his overall output quite a bit.
Data on average and slugging percentage in and out of the strikezone is from Brooks Baseball. The data was manually tabulated based on their raw numbers provided.