How Good Can 2014 Breakout MLB Star Scooter Gennett Be?

Mike Rosenbaum@GoldenSombreroMLB Prospects Lead WriterJuly 29, 2014

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The first-place Milwaukee Brewers have been an unexpected surprise this season, and the same goes for the team’s second baseman, Scooter Gennett.

Scooter, whose real name is Ryan Joseph Gennett, is in the midst of an under-the-radar breakout season, as he currently leads all National League second basemen with at least 320 plate appearances in batting average (.301), slugging percentage (.475) and OPS (.813).

Gennett’s combined success between the last two seasons has him pegged as the Brewers’ long-term second baseman, especially with Rickie Weeks set to leave as a free agent after the season. He’s still relatively young, at 24, and has room to improve, but the early return on Gennett’s brief career suggests he’s for real.

Overall, the left-handed-hitting Gennett has now played 160 games since arriving in the major leagues last year, which is essentially a complete season.

Scooter Gennett Career Stats (2013-2014)

According to FanGraphs, Gennett’s .822 OPS, .356 wOBA and 125 wRC+ rank second among all second basemen—trailing only Matt Carpenter (.833 OPS, .367 wOBA, 137 wRC+)—with at least 500 plate appearances dating back to 2013.

However, Gennett’s production does come with the caveat that the Brewers have mostly protected him from left-handed pitching in the major leagues, with most of his at-bats coming against righties.

Gennett fared well against same-side pitching during his first year of pro ball in 2010, but his production has since steadily declined to the point where he’s basically a platoon option—albeit a very good one.

Scooter Gennett's Career Stats (vs. LHP)
Baseball Reference

However, what I like most about Gennett is his ability to hit high-end right-handed pitching. The following stats give an idea about what I’m referring to, though keep in mind they are based on a small sample of plate appearances this season.

Gennett vs. Notable RHPs in 2014
Ervin Santana2-for-4, 2B
Julio Teheran2-for-6
Clay Buchholz1-for-2, 2B, 2 RBI
Jeff Samardzija2-for-4, 2 2B
Masahiro Tanaka1-for-2, 2B, RBI
Gerrit Cole3-for-6, 2B
Andrew Cashner1-for-2, 3B, RBI
Stephen Strasburg2-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI

There is a possibility Gennett will regress during the second half, but not as much as one might expect. The 24-year-old has improved both his walk and strikeout rates this season compared to his rookie campaign (4.3 BB%, 18.3 K% vs. 5.5 BB%, 14.7 K%), and he’s done so while maintaining a batting average and batting average on balls in play that are in line with his career averages.

Overall, Gennett has posted an fWAR (FanGraphs' version of the stat) of 4.0 through his first 160 games, which I believe is probably his ceiling moving forward. Plus, the fact that Gennett will be protected from southpaws in a platoon role (at least that’s how it looks as of now) gives him the potential to be a consistent two-plus-win player at the keystone.