Stop what you’re doing, Nick Senzel is hurt to start the 2023 season. The Cincinnati Reds are in the middle of a rebuild this year. The difference in this one from the previous, there are young players at every level awaiting their turn. With depth at some positions, the Reds coaching staff has been able to get a gauge on the future.
One position, in particular, is center field, or at least the player who has occupied the position. Nick Senzel enters his fifth season with the team, and will be starting the year out on the injured list. The question now should be, how much longer should the Reds keep trying their luck with him?
Nick Senzel: The prospect who didn’t turn out
The former top-five prospect in all of baseball was drafted second overall in the 2016 draft. As a third baseman for the University of Tennessee, Nick Senzel started out in the infield while in the minor leagues. His first two seasons were spent at third before getting some playing time at second base as well. Prior to the 2019 season, the Reds decided to non-tender Billy Hamilton a contract. That move, along with third and second base being occupied at the big league level, led to Senzel trying out center field.
On May 3, 2019, the Reds top prospect made his long-awaited debut. In a Friday night game against the San Francisco Giants, Nick Senzel would end up going 1 for 5 in the loss. Despite the loss, there was a buzz in the air that had been missing for years. The fans were excited, as there was a new young, promising player to look forward to.
Since his debut, there have been 514 regular season games for the Reds. Of those games, he has played in 273 of them. Every time you turn around, it seems as if there is a new Nick Senzel injury popping up. Unfortunately, he has spent more time with the Reds injured than he has on the field in his first four seasons.
2023 season and beyond
A career .240 hitter while posting a negative 1.8 bWAR, his impact has been minimal. Nick Senzel has shown flashes in his career, yet all of them have seemingly ended with an injury to some extent. Entering his second year in Arbitration, this could very well be his last season in a Cincinnati uniform.
With younger players such as Will Benson, TJ Friedl, Stuart Fairchild, and even Jose Barrero now getting looks in the outfield, the Reds have other options readily available. Moving forward, health is Senzel’s main focus. If he can get back on the field and produce the way many believe he still can, he may be able to turn it around. His time and opportunities however are growing smaller.
Main photo credits:
Sam Greene-USA Today Sports