Batter’s Box: A Man Named Scooter

Jonathan Metzelaar recaps yesterday's top offensive performances, including big nights from Scooter Gennett, Freddie Freeman, and Gary Sanchez.

Photo by Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire

In a day and age when top-tier names like Franchy and Teoscar are making the rounds in baseball, it’s good to remind ourselves of the forefathers of weird baseball names, the men who laid down their shame and stepped foot onto the diamond with names like Pickles Dilhoefer and Coco Crisp. These brave men paved the way, making it known far and wide that it’s totally fine for a grown man to be named after a breakfast cereal, or a condiment, or… whatever a Tuffy Gosewich is.

I would count Scooter Gennett among this group of courageous souls. Not many hitters can find a way to strike fear into the hearts of their opponents when they’re named after a mode of transportation used almost exclusively by toddlers. But that’s exactly what Gennett has been doing for over a year now, and what he continued to do yesterday when he went 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. A lot of people wrote off Gennett’s breakout last year as a fluke, but his peripherals this season have actually improved in most areas. His 21% strikeout rate and 6.3% walk rate are identical to last year. His 42% hard contact rate is way up from the 34% rate he posted in 2017. And his swinging strike rate (8.7%) and contact rate (81.9%) have both improved by about a percentage point so far. Despite the fact that Gennett seems to have been around forever, he’s just 27 years old, and there’s reason to believe that what he did last season could be the new normal for him. And wouldn’t you crave some normalcy in your life if your name was Scooter?

Andrelton Simmons (SS, Los Angeles Angels): 3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI – Simmons now has three homers and two steals that he’s pairing with a .313/.522/.750 triple slash, and last season is not looking like a fluke at all. Unless you’re referring to the fish. In which case it’s really not looking like a fluke.

Trevor Story (SS, Colorado Rockies): 1-3, R, HR, 4 RBI, BB – (To the tune of the Brady Bunch theme song) Here’s a Story, whose name is Trevor. He started making league-average contact (76.7%). Though he wasn’t hitting balls quite like he used to, about a third of his hits were getting whacked. Then the one day this shortstop he started stealing. He stole five bags in just April alone. It seemed like he was on a path to stardom. Especially since Coors Field was his home. It was his home. Coors was his home. And that’s why Trevor Story should be owned.

Alex Avila (C, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Performances like this are like when you’re done burying somebody, and all of a sudden an arm reaches up through the freshly packed dirt and claws its way to the surface. Or at least I imagine that’s what it’s like. I’ve never buried anybody alive. Anyway, Alex Avila is apparently still kicking, and generally has one of the highest hard contact rates in the game, though he’s going to have to do a lot more of this to reclaim the full-time catcher role.

Franchy Cordero (OF, San Diego Padres): 0-4, 4K – It was hard for Franchy to focus during yesterday’s game, because he was seeing 311 in the quad later, Brotendo. Days like yesterday might be more common for Franchy than for most other players, but if you can’t handle Franchy at his worst then you don’t deserve him at his best.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox): 0-5, 4K – Benintendi’s struggles against lefties continue, as he’s hitting just .071 against them so far this year. J.A. Happ underscored the issue yesterday by donning Benintendi with a golden sombrero.

Kyle Schwarber (OF, Chicago Cubs): 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI – Now in the #bestshapeofhislife, Schwarber has hit .409 over the past week with three homers and a 4:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

A.J. Pollock (OF, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2-4, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB – Pollock is whiffing and striking out more than he customarily does, but is also making 46% hard contact and stealing bases, so it’s hard to complain at the moment. Though if we had to complain about something, come on dawg, we all know that’s not how you spell “Pollack.”

Michael A. Taylor (OF, Washington Nationals): 1-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – The “A” in Michael A. Taylor stands for “Ask me about my middle name.” No really, it’s true, ask him next time you see him. Taylor’s nine stolen bases have him currently tied for the league lead in stolen bases with Dee Gordon and Trea Turner, but the power had been largely absent prior to yesterday. The man is going to be a stat compiler if you can stomach the low batting average.

Kurt Suzuki (C, Atlanta Braves): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Our very own Alex Fast had a great write-up about Kurt Suzuki, and if you didn’t read it then you should not be allowed to pick Suzuki up because you’re bad and you didn’t listen and this is what happens when you’re bad. Suzuki’s slashed .391/.423/.739 over the past week with two homers and should’ve been added yesterday.

Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves): 2-6, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI – Confirmed: Freddie Freeman’s wrist is definitely not broken.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, Cleveland Indians): 3-3, R, 2B, BB – Ramirez is hitting .448 with four homers over the past week and is really making up for a slow start to the year.

Hanley Ramirez (1B/DH, Boston Red Sox): 3-5, R, RBI – Don’t call it a comeback. No seriously, don’t, Hanley’s used up all his comebacks already and is not allowed any more. He’s running a career-high 27.9% line drive rate with a much-improved 39.3% hard contact rate and looks good so far. But it’s not a comeback.

Mac Williamson (OF, San Francisco Giants): 2-4, R, HR, RBI – If you haven’t already heard, Mac Williamson changed his swing with the help of the same hitting instructor that helped Justin Turner prior to his breakout. The proof is in the pudding. Williamson had six (!) homers in the minors prior to his call-up this season, and already has three in his first 19 at-bats in the majors.

Tommy Pham (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 3-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB – Pham returned with a bang after missing a few games due to some nagging injuries. He’s already drawn 17 walks on the year and is batting .348 on the season.

Curtis Granderson (OF, Toronto Blue Jays): 3-5, R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI – Great attitude? Check. Winning smile? Check. Walk-off homer against Craig Kimbrel? Check. What’s not to like about Curtis Granderson? His strikeout rate is at a five-year high, but he’s hitting .321 on the year thanks to a ton of batted ball luck. He’s notoriously streaky, so enjoy him while he’s hot.

Didi Gregorius (SS, New York Yankees): 3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI – Didi do that? Gregorious has looked less like Urkel and more like Stefan so far this year, thwacking eight homers so far and driving in an absurd 27 runs. If you listen closely you can hear Dave Cherman crying.

Gary Sanchez (C, New York Yankees): 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI – This Sanchize doesn’t butt fumble. This performance pulled Sanchez’s average up to just .208 on the year, but he’s been hitting .333 over the past week.

Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees): 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI – Judge now has a 19.4% walk rate that he’s pairing with a much-improved 25.2% strikeout rate, and he’s upped his line drive rate to 26.8% from 21.9% last year. Is it possible there’s yet another tier this man could potentially ascend to?

Ian Happ (OF/2B, Chicago Cubs): 3-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI – Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Happ’s 21% whiff rate (!) tells you all you really need to know, but at least he made contact for once.

Jay Bruce (OF, New York Mets): 3-5, R, HR, 3B, 2 RBI – Dad bod powers, activate! Bruce has looked bad this year, and not just because he seems to skimp on core muscle exercises. That said, aside from a drop in hard contact, most of his peripherals seem in line with what he usually posts, so hopefully this is a sign that he’s about to heat up.

Jonathan Metzelaar

Jonathan Metzelaar is a writer, content manager, and podcaster with Pitcher List. He enjoys long walks on the beach, quiet dinners by candlelight, and essentially any other activity that will distract him from the perpetual torture of being a New York Mets fan. He's written for Fangraphs Community Research and created Youtube videos about fantasy baseball under the moniker "Jonny Baseball."

8 responses to “Batter’s Box: A Man Named Scooter”

  1. theKraken says:

    Happ’s numbers aren’t that bad as of this moment. Its been a terrible start and I would bet on him being streaky, but I don’t think he is a lost cause. A lot of players with flaws (Franchy) get cut a ton of slack but Happ doesn’t get that treatment. What would you think if he can get his K rate under 30%? I think that is a perfectly reasonable ask as it would only represent a small improvement over last year and his K rates were not egregious in the minors – where he was pushed pretty aggressively. He struck out in 14 of his first 22 ABs, which we seem to be getting a bit hung up on amidst some improvement. He is a volatile one, but also young and he has some actual potential which not many players do.

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Thanks for reading. I definitely don’t see Happ as a lost cause, but he’s going to have to make some big strides to even keep up his current level of production. A lot of his plate discipline metrics have taken big steps back from last year, including whiff rate, contact rate, and chase rate. He’s hitting the ball harder than he did, which means some of the 53% of his batted balls he puts in the air will leave the yard, but the ones that don’t are going to be easy outs. Pair that with an untenable strikeout rate and I just don’t see how he manages to hit above .240. He’s young, and far from a finished product, but I think I’m out until I see some meaningful changes in approach.

  2. Nick says:

    No love for Brandon Belt homering in the 5th of 6 games?

  3. Let's Play Two says:

    If I have plenty of offense and an opportunity to trade either Schoop or Story for a top 10 pitcher and still be able to pick up someone like Scooter to replace either player, would you do it? Scooter’s numbers last year weren’t all that dissimilar than Schoop’s or Story’s and if he can replicate 2017 production it sound good to me.

    • Jonathan Metzelaar says:

      Yes, I’d absolutely do that. I think I’d try moving Schoop.

      • Let's Play Two says:

        Counter of Thor for my Acuna. I’m reluctant to part with Acuna for his 5-cat potential with 20+ SB. Do you make this deal?

        My roster

        C S. Perez / 1B Freeman, Abrea / 2B Merrified, Schoop / 3B Moose / SS Bregman / OF Trout, Judge, Springer, Pollock, Acuna / SP Kluber, Severino, Bauer, Godley, Corbin, Pivetta, E-Rod

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