If the Dodgers miss the playoffs this year, the players and management will have plenty to assess while mired in disappointment. Perhaps they’ll lament their decision making regarding bullpen reinforcements. Maybe they’ll think of the wrist injury to Justin Turner or the elbow injury to Corey Seager as reasons they couldn’t eclipse the Rockies or Diamondbacks. All are reasons the Dodgers haven’t resembled the indomitable force that crushed its fellow National Leaguers last year en route to the World Series, where they’d lose to the Astros in seven games.
But maybe, just maybe, they’ll see a highlight of Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett and wonder why they just couldn’t get that guy out and couldn’t beat the NL Central’s last-place team. The Dodgers are 0–6 against the Reds entering their Tuesday night matchup, and they've been on the receiving end of one of the most dominant performances of any opponent in baseball history. Having your teeth kicked in by anybody is painful; it must feel worse when the person doing it is a grown man who willingly goes by “Scooter.”
Entering Tuesday night’s game at Great American Ballpark, Gennett is compiling one of the greatest seasons any player has against any team. In four games this year, Gennett is hitting .737/.736/1.105 with two homers, nine RBI and six runs scored against Los Angeles. Gennett’s 14 hits over four games against the same team are the most in MLB history and the best stretch of four or more games against the same team since Kendrys Morales hit .750 (12-for-16 with one homer and three doubles) over four games against the Cardinals in 2016. The other recent and comparably dominant stretch was compiled by Trea Turner in Colorado in 2017: the Nationals shortstop slashed .524/.524/1.095 with two homers, 11 RBI, an astonishing 10 runs scored and seven extra-base hits.
When the Reds swept the Dodgers in May, Gennett reached base in seven of his first nine plate appearances, homering twice and driving in six runs. The worst outing he had that weekend was on Sunday, when he went 3-for-5 with one run scored. Gennett landed in Los Angeles hitting .288/.333/.407 with four homers; he left hitting .329/.368/.521 with six homers. The only thing he didn’t do was steal a base. Had he pitched, he probably would have thrown a perfect inning or four.
Reasonably, that would have been a mere hot streak. Except when the Dodgers returned to Cincinnati on Monday, Gennett finished 4-for-5 to propel the Reds to a 10–6 win and push Los Angeles to 1.5 games behind Colorado in the NL West. Gennett didn’t need to log an extra-base hit to thoroughly punish the Dodgers by the fourth inning. His first-inning single drove in Joey Votto from second base to extend Cincinnati’s lead to 3–0 before scoring on a Manny Machado error for the fourth run of the inning. Gennett would be stranded after his third-inning single, but proceeded to drive in his second run of the night with his fourth-inning single off of Alex Wood. Lest you think Gennett only had eyes for Wood, he hit another RBI single in the sixth inning off of Dodgers reliever Ryan Madson. That was his 14th hit against the Dodgers this season; if he records two more over the next two games, he will set the record for most hits against the same opponent over a six-game stretch (nine players are tied with 15).
Gennett will likely end up with the highest batting average against any opponent this season, but is it the best season that any player has had against any opponent? It’s close, but like many of baseball’s finest distinctions, the honor belongs to Mike Trout.
Unfortunately for the Chicago White Sox, they needed to face Trout over a four-game series and seven times this season. Fortunately, Chicago is not in the AL West. Trout’s .600 average against the White Sox in 33 plate appearances is fourth among players who logged at least 10 hits against an opponent this season. But it’s hardly the hits that make the performance stand out: Trout finished his season against the White Sox 12-for-20 with four homers, 11 RBI, four stolen bases, eight runs scored and 10 walks. Five of the ten walks he took were intentional! While most hitters on this list were enjoying a great two series, Trout was dominating every facet of the game to the point where the White Sox tried to avoid him whenever they could. And when they didn’t, they failed.
Whether Gennett can continue his dominance of the Dodgers will be seen on Tuesday night and possibly on Wednesday afternoon. But even with his .737 average against them, he likely won’t catch Trout for most dominant opposing performance of the year.