The Cincinnati Reds made a roster decision Friday by sending Nick Senzel to minor league camp. That opens the door for Scott Schebler to bat leadoff to begin the season.
The Cincinnati Reds surprised a lot of fans on Friday with the announcement that Nick Senzel was reassigned to minor league camp. That move essentially puts Scott Schebler as the team’s starting center fielder to begin the season. With the type of spring he’s had, Schebler, not Jesse Winker, should bat leadoff for the Reds.
I think a lot of Reds Country is still in a bit of shock over the news surrounding Nick Senzel. Yes, there was always the possibility that he’d start the season in Triple-A in order to give the Reds an additional year of team control, but most reports coming out of camp were so positive. Keeping Senzel in Triple-A seems like a business move and nothing more.
However, it’s not like the guy that’s replacing him in center field has had a terrible spring. Scott Schebler is likely to draw the start in center on Opening Day and he has displayed the patience of Job at the plate this spring. Schebler has drawn 11 walks in 40 plate appearances and has a .548 on-base percentage in Cactus League play.
While fans were marveling at Phillip Ervin’s power numbers and Nick Senzel’s smooth adjustment to the new position defensively, Schebler has quietly put together a very nice spring. In addition to his incredibly high OBP, Schebler’s hitting .379 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, and 5 RBIs.
One of the biggest knocks on Schebler has been his high number of strikeouts. Last season, Schebler’s strikeout percentage was 23%, which was down slightly from the 23.5% in 2017. However, in 2017, Schebler also had 30 home runs compared to the 17 he had last season.
Jesse Winker has been looked at since the beginning of camp as the odds-on favorite to win the leadoff spot. His extremely low strikeout percentage of 13.8% in 2018 makes him a great candidate. Winker also had 14.7% walk percentage in 2018 compared to Schebler’s 9.1%.
So far this spring, Schebler’s strikeout percentage is sitting at 15% while his walk percentage is a ridiculous 27.5%. By comparison, Winker’s strikeout percentage this spring is 20% while his walk percentage is 9%.
Every question that’s been answered this spring leads to a new question. With Senzel and Ervin no longer on the roster, the questions shift from the outlook for the Cincinnati Reds outfield to the lineup and who bats leadoff. If this spring is any indicator, Schebler looks like the best choice.