Cincinnati Reds temper expectations for Scooter Gennett

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

After a breakout season for the Cincinnati Reds, the team needs to maintain realistic expectations.

Last season Scooter Gennett was the best offensive second baseman in the National League, once he began playing everyday for the Cincinnati Reds.  Gennett played second, third, and some outfield for the Reds in 2017.  After his strong season, Gennett is set to play second base everyday in 2018, having already won his arbitration hearing.

Last season, Gennett was second in the NL among second basemen with at least 400 plate appearances with an offensive WAR (wins above replacement) of 13.0.  He had a -4.8 WAR defensively for a net WAR of 2.4.  That WAR ranked him twelfth in MLB among all second basemen with 400 or more PA.

There should be no expectation the Gennett produces anywhere close to that number.  Instead of a 2.4 WAR, something in the 0.7 to 1 WAR range seems more realistic.  That puts him towards the lower end of veteran starting second basemen.

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The bigger question is his home run power.  Last season he was fourth among all second baseman and first among NL second basemen with 27 home runs.  Looking at his career stats, a regression to closer to twenty home runs seems more than likely, even accounting for playing in Great American Ballpark.

The rest of Scooter Gennett’s stats are due for a regression with the Cincinnati Reds in 2018.

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Last season, Gennett played a career high 141 games, despite starting the season on the bench.  He should play about that number again.  The Reds will likely bench him against tough left-handers.

His .531 slugging percentage is another stat to watch.  With a career .446 slugging percentage, something close to .450 is a better expectation.  This is especially true if Gennett hits 8-10 fewer home runs.

His OPS was also a career high .874.

Something closer to his career number of .769 is more likely.  Even that may be a stretch if both his OBP and slugging percentage regress to normal.

The hope has to be that his defense returns to an MLB average state without too large of an offensive regression.  He is making enough from arbitration that he is not likely to be traded.  That means that Gennett has to hold a starting job for the Reds all season long.

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The good news is that Gennett is a career .283 hitter with a career OBP of .323.  Those numbers play fine in Cincinnati anywhere in the batting order.  They will play even better if the Reds let Gennett bat clean-up to start the 2018 season.