Though he’s yet to spend any time there during spring ball, Cincinnati Reds’ slugger Yasiel Puig should begin the 2019 as the team’s center fielder.
Cincinnati Reds fans are excited about the team’s acquisition of Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Right now, the Reds have a crowded outfield, even trying to switch Nick Senzel to center field to add some speed and find a way to get his bat in the lineup. That would be a mistake, at least for this year, and the better option is to put Puig in center field.
After deciding not to re-up Billy Hamilton’s contract, the Reds knew that they would be taking their outfield in a different direction. They now have to decide if they want to use the organization’s young players or proven veterans in the outfield.
Nick Senzel is currently working on switching from the middle infield to center field, but it’s going to be tough for him to make that transition right away. Puig could potentially be just a rental this year, providing time for Senzel to acclimate to the grass instead of dirt.
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Having never done so before, Senzel will have to learn the nuance of what it takes to be a major league outfielder. He’ll have to learn the responsibilities of positioning the outfield, calling off the infielders, and even simple things like running on your toes so that the ball doesn’t bounce in your vision while tracking down a fly ball.
In theory, all those types of intricacies appear simple, but can be difficult for someone who’s never done it before. For the Cincinnati Reds to get back to winning baseball, Nick Senzel will have to perfect those things. Putting him in center field from the jump seems like a risky move to me.
Yasiel Puig didn’t have a dynamite year in 2018, but playing 81 games at Great American Ball Park will certainly help his offensive statistics. Puig hit .267 in 125 games for the Dodgers last year and clubbed 23 home runs. It’s no secret that Cincinnati’s ball park is a hitter’s paradise and Puig is likely to bring some more power to Ohio.
Puig may lack some speed Senzel provides, but not much, and he has a cannon for an arm in the outfield. Yasiel Puig showcased his throwing ability many times over his career in right field for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yasiel Puig may not be the long-term solution for Cincinnati’s vacancy in center field, but he has played over 60 games at the position, which is more than Senzel has to this point. A transition from right field to center is much more doable than a transition from the infield to the outfield. Senzel could surprise, but the Reds should start the season with Puig in center field.