Gennett solidifying claim on Brewers' leadoff role
DENVER -- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke's confidence in second baseman Scooter Gennett has been steadily climbing since he made his first Opening Day roster this season -- and who could blame him?
Gennett's .317 batting average is the highest among players with a minimum of 80 percent of their first 137 games played at second base in the last 100 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Furthermore, only three players, Dan Uggla, Ian Kinsler and Joe Gordon, have had a higher slugging percentage than Gennett's .475 under the same requirements.
Gennett's production has earned him the lion's share of at-bats at second base and even a recent promotion to the top of the order. But that hasn't stopped Roenicke from starting Rickie Weeks over Gennett the past two days with two left-handers on the mound for the Rockies.
That trend could end soon though.
"Scooter is a guy who eventually I'd like to see out there against some left-handers," said Roenicke. "I think he's getting more confident against the left-handers. He can hit. There's no reason why he can't hit left-handers."
Only 29 of Gennett's 225 at-bats this season have come against southpaws, resulting in four hits and eight strikeouts. Left-handers have also forced Gennett to ground into two double plays this season. By comparison, Gennett has only grounded into three double plays in 196 at-bats against right-handers in 2014.
But Roenicke feels the opportunity for Gennett to hit leadoff for the Brewers in his last nine starts will help him take more quality at-bats against any type of pitcher.
"Maybe he ends up being a leadoff hitter for years, I don't really know," said Roenicke. "But I think what he's doing right now is going to help him in the future no matter where he's hitting in the lineup. It's forced him to really look at pitches and concentrate more instead being up there just as a free-swinger like he was."
Gennett doesn't mind his platoon role with Weeks. He's just happy to be back in the one-hole, a spot where he had a majority of his at-bats in the Minors.
"I've had a lot of time in the leadoff role prior to the big leagues," said Gennett. "So that's where I'm comfortable."
With the seventh highest batting average and the eighth most doubles (20) in the National League, Gennett relishes the pressure that's part of his table-setting role.
"You can set the tone with a good at-bat or a base hit and I'm more than happy to do so," said Gennett. "It's really exciting to get things started like that. Obviously when I don't get on base I feel terrible, but that's just a part of the game."