You’re here for the taters, right? Here are the taters, four of them on consecutive at-bats for Scooter Gennett in Cincinnati’s 13-1 win over St. Louis..
The four-home run game is one of the most exciting baseball feats—it fits neatly into a short highlight video, and the building crowd excitement is great—and it’s among the least predictable baseball, because anyone can achieve it. The short list of major leaguers who have done it—just 17 now, including Gennett—includes some great players, but not all of them. It’s generally sluggers, for obvious reasons, but not always. Gennett is neither of these things, and for sheer shock value, no one else on the list is less likely to be there.
Before the outburst, Gennett had 39 career homers in 1,755 plate appearances over five seasons, with a career high of 14 last year. His four-homer night more than doubled his season total to seven.
“That’s something I never thought I would do,” Gennett said. “Even three home runs would be too crazy for me.”
“That’s baseball. It’s not how big or strong you are, it’s how efficient and sometimes lucky.”
None of this was supposed to happen. Gennett, a 27-year-old, 5-foot-10 career second baseman, was waived by the Brewers at the end of spring training, and picked up by the Reds to be a utility guy, which entailed learning some new positions. He’s started four games at third base this year, which he’d never played in the majors. He was in left field last night, a position he’d never played before this season. His previous outfield experience had consisted of one inning in 2014.
The only conceivable reason you might have even known Gennett was in Cincinnati now was when Brandon Phillips, visiting as a member of the Braves, said it was “a slap in the face” that his uniform No. 4 had been given away. A sheepish Gennett said he hadn’t asked for that number and had tried to change it, but MLB makes it too difficult to switch uniform numbers midseason. As it happened, No. 4 turned out to be the right number.
Gennett wasn’t even supposed to start last night. But a freak rainstorm canceled Monday’s batting practice, pushing back manager Bryan Price’s plans to ease the injured Scott Schebler back into the lineup. So Gennett got the start in left, and now everyone will know his name forever, even if he never does anything worthy of headlines again.
I say “know his name,” but his actual name is Ryan. And the story of how he got his nickname might be the best Scooter Gennett story of all. From a 2014 Journal Sentinel story:
Gennett found himself at a police station as a young child because he was giving his mother problems with wearing his seat belt. She took her son in to scare him into wearing it, and left with a surprising twist.
In an attempt to avoid trouble with the law, the mischievous young Gennett gave officers a fake first name. “I told the cops Scooter Gennett because that was my favorite Muppet Babies character. I kind of just used it as an alias, I thought I would get in trouble if I told them my real name.”
Both the police officers and Gennett’s mother were not expecting the youngster to give an alias. “She was shocked, she didn’t know that that was my favorite character. It kind of surprised her. She gave me a nudge to tell them my real name and I still didn’t. I just rolled with it.”
Gennett decided he liked his new identity so much he stopped responding to his real name. “For about a year or so I didn’t answer to Ryan. To get me to do anything, my parents and everyone would have to call me Scooter. It kind of just stuck.”
Go forth and impress your friends with your newfound Scooter Gennett knowledge! Or at least watch the dingers again.