Cincinnati Reds: Nick Senzel will be the team’s most improved player

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 18: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel is hoping for better results in 2020.

For the first time in several years, the Cincinnati Reds have high expectations heading into the season. Elite-level pitching, a mix of veterans and young stars, combined with the deepest roster in years have folks in the Queen City excited. But, who amongst the existing Reds has the best chance to be the team’s most improved player. Nick Senzel is the first name that comes to mind.

Because of an ankle injury and manipulation of service time, Senzel didn’t debut until early-May last season. The No. 2 overall pick from the 2016 MLB Draft did not take long to impress fans as his eye for the strike zone ran the pitch count up fast in his debut. The next day, Senzel went opposite field for his first home runs as a big leaguer.

After a solid start to his rookie campaign, Senzel’s numbers dropped off. Through the month July, the rookie hit .285/.346/.475 with eight home runs, 30 RBIs and nine stolen bases. Hitting coach Turner Ward tinkered with Senzel’s batting stance, but the results were not good. Over his final 34 games of 2019, Senzel hit just .188/.242/.313.

Senzel, an infielder throughout his entire career, was switched to center field last season as well. As the season went on, Senzel appeared more and more comfortable playing the position. A lot of fans thought the move, which was made in order to get Senzel’s bat into the lineup, was a poor decision. However, Senzel is one of the better athletes on the team, and the move made sense.

Stats are a convenient way for front office personnel, experts, pundits and fans to breakdown a player’s performance. However, Nick Senzel possesses certain intangibles that you won’t see in a stat line. Senzel’s ability to read a strike zone, hustle down the line, and play multiple positions are invaluable pieces to his game. Senzel is a five-tool player by every definition.

With Senzel, it’s not just about his talent, but his work ethic. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated player on this year’s Cincinnati Reds team. On The Jim Day’s Podcast, Senzel spoke about a conversation between he and Joey Votto after a game, “You’re the best player on our team and you’re the best player on the other team. I’m going to keep telling you that.”

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That’s high praise coming from a veteran player who’s seen his fair share of talented players over the years. Though Shogo Akiyama was signed during the offseason, Senzel will see plenty of opportunities in the outfield or as the team’s designated hitter. The biggest “if” for Senzel is health. If he can stay off the injured list, Nick Senzel will be the Reds most improved player.