Cincinnati Reds: Shortened season could shift Nick Senzel to the infield

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With the 2020 Major League Baseball season unlikely to feature 162 games, Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel could move to the infield.

Nick Senzel‘s versatility may be put to the test this coming season. With the likelihood of a 162-game season looking like a long shot, last year’s rookie may become one of the most important players on the 2020 Cincinnati Reds roster. Senzel has plenty of experience playing the infield, and he could easily start at second or third base depending on how the schedule unfolds.

With the 2020 Major League Baseball season on hold and no Opening Day date on the table, it’s anyone’s guess as to when baseball will be played. However, the player’s union and the owners want to play as many games as possible once the season is underway.

The idea of an expanded roster has certainly been bandied about, as have doubleheaders. There’s a very good chance that we could see multiple doubleheaders per week as a way to increase the total number of games played. If that’s the case, the chances of Nick Senzel playing more than just center field greatly increase.

Senzel was moved from his natural position on the infield dirt to center field last season in an attempt to get his bat in the lineup. Cincinnati had just moved on from Billy Hamilton, and with Eugenio Suárez and Scooter Gennett taking up Senzel’s normal spots in the Reds infield, center field appeared to be the best chance to get last year’s rookie to the big leagues.

Senzel faired well in center field, but an injury to his shoulder towards the end of the season sidelined the University of Tennessee alum and he played only 104 games during the 2019 season. Only once did Senzel leave the outfield to play just 1.1 innings at second base. He may see move than just an inning-plus of work this coming season.

Nick Senzel is an infielder by trade. He spent three seasons at UT holding down the hot corner and played 196 minor league games at third base as well. Senzel also made 28 starts at second base during his minor league career. While Senzel may still be the Reds best option in center field despite the addition of Shogo Akiyama, playing doubleheaders may require his services elsewhere.

I don’t expect Senzel to supplant Suárez or the newly acquired Mike Moustakas in the long-term, but the 24-year-old is a better option than Derek Dietrich, Matt Davidson or even his best buddy Josh VanMeter. The Reds could play Akiyama in center field, flanked by Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, while Senzel spells Geno at third base.

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David Bell is going to have to get creative with his lineup, especially if there’s fewer off days and an increased number of doubleheaders. Senzel is a young, skilled player, and provided he’s healthy, may be Bell’s best option to help weather the storm of a shorten 2020 season.