From the time hall of fame players Robin Yount and Paul Molitor had their jerseys retired with the Brewers, fans in Milwaukee clamored for the club to retire the number 17. While he was often overlooked, Jim Gantner or Gumby, was as vital to the club’s success as the aforementioned players. Gantner was a staple in the lineup, whose hardnosed play helped him become a fan favorite. The Brewers have a new Gumby now at second base in Scooter Gennett. Although Scooter does not bring the same power as some of the other slugging Brewers, his scrappiness makes him pivotal in the team’s current and future success.
Neither Gantner or Gennett intimidates with their size. Although he is listed at a favorable 5’10”, Gennett looks more like a computer programmer than a professional athlete. Just like Gantner, when Gennett was drafted in the 16th round of the 2009 draft, he was not seen as a top flight prospect. However, he continued to work his way up to the big leagues by impressing at each spot. Each year, he was a hit machine batting .297 through three and a half minor league seasons. His glove also steadily improved as he not only increased his range, but saw a steady climb in his fielding percentage, peaking at an outstanding .990 last season. In only three years, he went from being an afterthought player, to one of the top second base prospects by MLB.com.
Last year, after an injury to Rickie Weeks, Scooter earned a full-time job at the major league level and he has not looked back. In his first 69 major league games, Gennett was one of the Brewers best hitters. He batted .324 and even showed some power by homering six times.
In Gantner’s 17 year Brewer career, he batted in every spot in the Brewers lineup. Already, Gennett has batted in every spot other than fifth and sixth. He began this year in the eighth spot, but he has been promoted to the second spot due to his .300 batting average and six extra base hits through the first month. With the clubs hot start, much of the offensive attention has gone to players like Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez, but Gennett’s steady bat has been just as vital this year.
While both Gantner and Gennett are not players who gain much national attention, their scrappiness made them both fan favorites. Their determination earned their spots in the big leagues and kept them there. Since taking over the second base spot, Gennett has not looked back. Just as Gantner was cemented in the Brewers lineup for over decade, Scooter Gennett’s tenacious play will make him a mainstay in the lineup for the next generation of Brewers’ fans.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Reference