For being a player who's never played a game in Milwaukee, Brewers fans sure seem to love Ryan Joseph "Scooter" Gennett.
The fan base's blind affection so generously heaped upon the childlike frame of the scant second baseman is probably on account of two main reasons. First, and most important, Gennett hit .297, stole eight bases and tallied 60 hits through 50 games in Nashville this season. Not bad at all. But it seems like the primary reason fans have been ardently clamoring for Scooter to climb the prospect ladder is--aside from him not being Rickie Weeks--is on account of how he's managed to play slightly above average triple-A ball while still being able to shop at Gap Kids. Well, the boisterous and largely-unintelligible cries of Team Scooter were finally heard today, as the impish infielder was promoted to the Milwaukee Brewers 25-man roster.
Let me start by saying that I harbor no ill will toward Gennett. I wish him loads of success in Milwaukee over the course of a lengthy and memorable career. However, I just don't see that happening. Sure, the little guy is the sixth rated prospect in the Brewers minor league system, but that same minor league system is considered to be among the worst in baseball. The Expos have better prospects waiting in the wings. Being the sixth best prospect the Brewers has to offer is as much a badge of honor was being one of the best actors in Fast & Furious 6, a touring musician in support of Josh Groban or third runner-up in the Miss Vermont pageant.
We live in an age of baseball that's, thankfully, less reliant on a player's ability to "look" like a pro and "show he has the tools to last in this league" and 5,000 other things you've heard Harold Reynolds say. I won't pretend to be an expert on advanced metrics, but I do appreciate that player evaluation has advanced beyond looking at how an adult man looks in a uniform, how hard he can hit a baseball and how he "leave it all on the field." I love the increased acceptance of defense-first players on rosters throughout the league and how ballparks are adding OBP to their jumbotron stats.
Yet Scooter-Mania seems to hint that no matter how much we know about baseball and how much the way we watch the game has changed for the better, it's nothing compared to the allure of seeing a man with a unique body-type play at a level and with a frequency he shouldn't be permitted. Scooter Gennett is baseball John Kuhn. In the same way the collective screams of "KUUUUUUUUHN!!!" showed Lambeau Field preferred to put the fate of 4th and 1 in the incapable hands of a white, 250-pound undrafted backup fullback from Shippensburg instead of Ryan Grant in his prime, is the same logic that goes into seeking out a 5'10" (listed--he's maybe 5'6") and 150-pound singles hitter taken in the 16th round to take over at second base for a struggling-but-proven first round pick/former All-Star with three 20-homer run seasons to his credit and a career OBP that's higher than any single season Gennett has had since low-A ball.
As a whole, we like "scrappy" and "gritty" players because they're like us. They weren't blessed with the bodies to be able to succeed in professional sports. When an Eckstein or a Gennett squeezes through the cracks, it's a victory for us. Maybe we can do something with our life someday. Maybe we will get that raise so we can finally buy that boat or trick that cute bartender into going on a date with us. It's all kind of sad. And when the anomaly has a nickname like "Scooter," we're eating out of his hand.
I might be wrong (and I really hope I am), but I just don't think Scooter Gennett is the answer... unless the question is in regard to a cheap, warm body that will keep fans watching a fourth place team while Doug Melvin tries to free up salary by trading Rickie Weeks for peanuts. Right now, even Jeff Bianchi seems like a better option at second than Gennett does. And if Gennett is so goddamn valuable and meaningful for Milwaukee's future, then why start his arbitration clock, toss him unnecessary service time and rob him of regular at-bats in meaningless contests?
As neat as it is to see a homegrown prospect ascend to the Major League level, I think both the time and the player are wrong. Bookmark this and tweet quotes at me when I'm wrong, but I think Scooter Gennett is more likely to wind up as a funny "Oh my God, I forgot about him!!!" reference we pull out to make friends laugh in 2019 than a productive every day player at the big league level. Rickie Weeks may not be the right man for Milwaukee's 2B job right now (even though he is), but neither is a scrappy-gritty miniature who we can live vicariously through.