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Sleepers typically have one or more of some certain characteristics that make them seem undesirable. That may include playing for a bad team, old age, lack of the “big name” or “big prospect,” or the “too good to be true” factor.

Scooter Gennett is safely in his prime at age 28, but he plays for the Reds who lost 95 games in 2018, was drafted in the 16th round, and lacks the big name allure that fantasy owners love.

Based on RotoBaller's early rankings, he is the 84th player on the board (#9 second baseman). Gennett is likely to be overlooked on draft day because he lacks the excitement of some other names such as Adalberto Mondesi or Gleyber Torres. It’s just not sexy to draft a guy like Scooter Gennett but here’s a look at why you should do just that.

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A Big Red Machine

In 2018, he slashed .310/.357/.490 with 23 HRs, 86 R, and 92 RBI, the best full season of his career. But let’s not just focus on last year, Gennett has begun to surge since he joined the Reds in 2017 when he put up a slash line of .295/.342/.531 with 27 HR, 80 R, and 97 RBI. Typically, we can be skeptical after one breakout year, but continued and even better performance in the second year and it’s probably legit.

Gennett made improvements in 2018. He struck out less, decreasing his K% by over 3.3% to 19.6%, he’s walking more, increasing his walk% by 0.6% to 6.6%, and he’s hitting the ball harder, increasing his hard contact% by 4.4% to 38.8%. All of these factors contributed to a .310 batting average in the 2018 season. Sure, you can point to a high BABIP of .358, but he’s historically had a fairly high BABIP (.339 in 2017 and .315 in 2016) and he’s also improved his approach at the plate which is evidenced by an increase in hits to the opposite field by 3.6% to 27.4% in 2018.

Despite a sharp drop in ISO from .236 to .180, Gennett only popped four fewer home runs than he did the previous year. His 23 total home runs in 2018 were fourth-most for qualified second baseman. If the Reds can get him running, he could post a stolen base total closer to double digits, but don’t bet on that as he’s only successfully grabbed a total of seven bags in his past two seasons.

The above improvements landed Gennett in the top-five for home runs, runs, RBI, and AVG among qualified second baseman. How did he manage these counting stats in the Reds offense? In 2018, the Cincinnati Reds managed the ninth-best team OBP only .001 behind the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. Better yet, Gennett is projected to be sandwiched between Joey Votto, .427 career OBP and one of the best hitters in baseball, and Eugenio Suarez, who has smashed 60 HR in the past two seasons. The Reds’ choice to non-tender Billy Hamilton and accompanying .299 OBP will add to Gennett’s value. Now projected to hit in the 1 and 2 spots are Jose Peraza (.326 OBP in 2018) and Jesse Winker (.405 OBP in 89 games in 2018), respectively. Add power bats Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to the mix and this offense looks like it can do some serious damage in 2019. Kemp is coming off an All-Star campaign, and Puig drilled 23 HRs and stole 15 bases last season.

 

What's Not to Like?

Well then, what’s the only thing that could knock this take on Gennett off the rails? A trade. But don’t worry, nothing has been rumored to be close as of late, and the potential trade partners rumored this offseason have already made moves for free agent second baseman. The Yankees, rumored to be in talks with the Reds about Sonny Gray, recently signed DJ LeMahieu for two years. The Nationals recently signed Brian Dozier to a one-year deal.

The Reds lack options at this point and should be excited to return a key piece to their lineup. At an ADP of 87 and the ninth 2B off the board, Gennett offers the stability that some players ahead of him can’t. Gennett is tucked nicely into No Man's Land between J.T. Realmuto and Josh Donaldson. He’s definitely worth reaching for over those players in the middle of your draft and will be a valuable fantasy producer from your 2B slot.

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