When the Cincinnati Reds selected Nick Senzel in the 2016 MLB Draft, they had high hopes. At the University of Tennessee, Senzel was fantastic. When he got to the pros, the Reds tinkered with the former third baseman, and his positions. Senzel has been subject to much ridicule, mostly because of his injuries over the span of his short career. Finally, Senzel is settling into his role with the Reds, and it’s showing.
Drafted Second, First to the IL
In 2016, the Reds selected Nick Senzel second overall in the draft. He had just finished his Sophomore season for the Volunteers, batting .325 with a near .400 OBP. The Reds had high hopes for Senzel, but had an issue at the forefront. Senzel had played third base for Tennessee, and blocking Senzel’s journey was Eugenio Suarez at the time. This prompted the Reds to try him out at shortstop, second base, and in the outfield. Now, this isn’t taboo for Major League clubs to get a look at a player in a new position, but it came at a cost for Senzel. On top of learning a new position, Senzel dealt with a lot of various injuries, including a serious bout with Vertigo. Injuries would be the bane of Senzel’s existence, that is, until this year.
Finding His Footing
Senzel debuted in 2019, but quickly succumbed to various injuries again that cost him a lot of playing time. For someone as hyped as Nick Senzel was, he was suffering from numerous injuries, which undoubtedly hurt not only his body, but his confidence. He would be planted in centerfield for the Redlegs, and when he has been healthy, he has been fun to watch. It took him some time to get used to the position, but his speed and dedication to getting better has made him a very good outfield option for the Reds. Not so bad for a guy who played the infield his entire life. His 2022 season, much like the rest of the team, would start slow. Senzel struggled at the plate, and the team was on life support after a 3–22 start to the season.
Senzel had a few small stints on the Injured List, but has come back more comfortable at the plate. He has started 61 games in center and put up a .260 average on the season so far. Since June 22nd though, Senzel has raised his average nearly 60 points, and raised his on-base percentage nearly 60 points as well. It is evident that being healthy and knowing his consistent role within the team has benefited him at the plate.
Work Left to Do
Senzel is starting to come into his own a little bit as a Major League player. There is still a lot of work to do, however. Nick Senzel at the end of 2022 becomes arbitration eligible for the first time in his career. It is likely at this point that he is playing for a spot on the Reds’ roster moving forward. In order for the Reds to have any interest in bringing him back into the fold, he has to continue to stay healthy. We all know that the player we saw coming out of Tennessee is still within him, and yes, it has taken time for him to develop, but that time to come into his own is right now. As the saying goes “There is no better time than the present”.
Senzel, if he remains healthy and continues to show he can hit the ball well, will be a necessary piece in the rebuild of this team. Pairing him with Jonathan India, Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo can be something the Reds build off of. All four guys are highly touted prospects, and India has already cemented his spot on this team, winning the 2021 Rookie of the Year. Senzel seems to be creeping ever so close to his final form. So if he continues to hit well and stay healthy, expect the Reds to roll the dice on him for the foreseeable future.
Nick Senzel can be a very good hitter in this league. Will he hit 30 homers and knock in 120 runs? Probably not, but can he develop into a reliable top or middle of the lineup piece who mans centerfield? Absolutely, and only time will tell with how Nick Senzel will pan out, but with his current direction, he’s definitely heading down the right path.
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