Almost nothing has gone right for Scooter Gennett in 2019. This isn’t just a down year. This is the darkest timeline. By wRC+, he’s having a worse year at the plate than Kenta Maeda, Max Fried, and Jacob deGrom. I don’t think anyone expected things to take such a turn after Gennett put in a career year in 2018.
Gennett began the year on the IL with a groin strain, and he wasn’t activated until late June. When he came over to the Giants, he said something to the effect that July acted as his spring training, and August would be the beginning of his season. The expected stats seemed to back that up. Gennett was hitting the ball harder near the end of July, but that didn’t continue.
He picked up a home run in his first Giants series, but that was one of two hits in 11 at bats. It wasn’t an impressive homer either. The splash hit against the Phillies was an encouraging sign. He had nice series in Arizona if you don’t factor in his baserunning. He went 7-for-19 with a double against the Diamondbacks. In Chicago, though, he looked lost going 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.
If we want to say that August 1 was his Opening Day, then he’s had three slow weeks to start the season. He’s slashing .246/.266/.410 in a Giants uniform with two homers and 19 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances. Gennett’s never been an on-base machine, but he’s drawn just one walk with the Giants which matches his total with the Reds. He’s making Kevin Pillar and Pablo Sandoval look like Joey Votto when it comes to the base on balls.
Gennett looks like he’s pressing a bit, and that’s causing him to expand his zone. Gennett is going out of the strike zone at Javier Báezian levels. He’s swinging at 46.6 percent of pitches out of the zone. His career average is 35.4 and league average is 28.4. It’s not that he isn’t picking up breaking balls or anything. He’s chasing everything out of the zone including fastballs.
Fastballs out of the zone should be the easiest pitches to identify, but Gennett is going after them at a higher rate than some batters chase sliders. If he were destroying the ball when he made contact, this might just be concerning rather than alarming. He’s not destroying the ball though. His hard-hit rate, average exit velocity, and expected wOBA on contact are all career lows.
It’s a small sample, and it can’t be easy to join a season midway through. Getting traded to a team that was kinda sorta in the playoff hunt can add pressure to perform especially when you’re replacing a fan favorite and World Series hero.
How’s Joe Panik doing with the Mets by the way?
.342/.375/.421, 115 wRC+