Cincinnati Reds: Nick Senzel is the last hope for revival in 2020

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 2: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates as he scores on a single.(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 2: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates as he scores on a single.(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

The Reds expect Nick Senzel to return very soon.

The Cincinnati Reds are five games under .500 and two games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for second-place in the NL Central. After splitting the past four games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati is in danger of missing the postseason for a seventh consecutive season. Nick Senzel’s imminent return might be the Reds last chance to revive this beleaguered offense.

Let’s just get right to it; the Cincinnati Reds offense has been horrendous. While no one expected the 2020 season to be reduced to just 60 games, no one expected to the Reds to be dead last in batting average (.211) after 41 games. This offense is struck in neutral, and the trade deadline addition of Brain Goodwin is not going to jumpstart it.

However, according to David Bell, centerfielder Nick Senzel was cleared to begin workouts at the team’s alternate facility at Prasco Park. Senzel has been on the injured list since August 18th and hasn’t seen the field since August 14th.’s Mark Sheldon reported that Senzel may join the team for its upcoming road trip to Chicago and St. Louis.

While much has been made of Senzel’s injury history over his brief professional career, his latest trip to the IL was unrelated to an on-the-field injury. It was reported earlier last month that a member of the Cincinnati Reds tested positive for COVID-19 and before play resumed four days later, Senzel was placed on the IL with an undisclosed injury.

Shogo Akiyama has not lived up to expectations. The Japanese outfielder who signed a three-year/$21M contract this past winter is hitting just .196 and hasn’t hit a home run yet this season. Akiyama’s OPS is a paltry .554. That’s certainly not what Reds fans or management was expecting from Akiyama.

I’m willing to give Akiyama the benefit of the doubt, however, as it isn’t easy to transition from the Nippon Professional Baseball league to Major League Baseball. Akiyama’s defense has been solid, but the Reds need Nick Senzel’s bat back in the lineup. The addition of Goodwin is not enough to move the needle.

Senzel has just 45 at-bats this season, but his .816 OPS is enough to get him into the everyday lineup for David Bell. Cincinnati has also struggled to find a quality leadoff hitter. While Joey Votto has done an admirable job since returning from his benching, the 36-year-old might be better suited further down in the lineup.

The Cincinnati Reds have enough power in their lineup, they rank fourth among all NL clubs in home runs. The Reds also draw plenty of walks, as they trail only the Cubs in that department. But with the 11th ranked on-base percentage (.312) and OPS (.712), something’s got to give.

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Nick Senzel’s youth, athleticism and hitting prowess may offer the Reds offense the type of jolt it needs to finish strong. This season isn’t done just yet, but the time to turn things around is now. The Reds need to win four of their next six games, but to so they’ll have to take down the two best clubs in the division and they need Nick Senzel back in the lineup.