Reds: Nick Senzel, not Mike Moustakas, should move to third base

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a ground ball. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 20: Mike Moustakas #9 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a ground ball. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

There’s a prevailing thought that moving Eugenio Suárez to shortstop would help solve the Cincinnati Reds quandary. In theory, David Bell could then shift Mike Moustakas to third base and bring Nick Senzel from the outfield back to his natural position on the infield dirt.

There’s certainly merit to the idea, and from a hitting perspective, once could argue that it puts the best lineup on the field. However, defensively, moving Moustakas from second base to third base is unwise and could further weaken the Reds infield defense.

The Reds should avoid moving Mike Moustakas to third base.

Credit to Steven Offenbaker, host of the Reds Alert Podcast, who has been banging this drum for some time. His point is valid, and there are a lot of fans throughout Reds Country that would agree with his assessment. Offenbaker has said that moving Suárez to shortstop, Senzel to second, and Moustakas to third would solve the Reds problems.

David Bell was asked yesterday about the prospects of moving Suárez to shortstop. After all, Geno looks to be in great physical shape, and he came up through the minor leagues as a shortstop. Here’s what Bell had to say on the subject via MLB.com:

"“We know he could play there. There haven’t been any serious discussions about it yet. We’ll never rule anything out. You’re always open-minded, but right now we’re just letting him get acclimated to Spring Training and settle in…I do think the better shape he’s in, he’s going to move even better at third base — especially at that position, it’s such a reaction position, that I think being lighter on his feet is really going to help him over there.”"

I have no problems with the Reds playing Suárez at shortstop, especially given the shape he’s in as spring training begins. I also don’t have a problem bringing Nick Senzel back to the infield. Senzel hadn’t played center field until the Reds moved him there in 2019.

He’s certainly athletic enough to play the position, but with the overcrowded outfield, it would allow the trio of Shogo Akiyama (CF), Nick Castellanos (RF), and Jesse Winker (LF) to take up residence on a regular basis on the outfield grass.

The Reds should keep Mike Moustakas at second base.

When the Cincinnati Reds signed Mike Moustakas last winter to be the team’s starting second baseman, I wasn’t the only one who raised an eyebrow. Outside of 40-plus games in 2019, Moose had manned the hot corner throughout his entire career. But maybe the Brewers were onto something.

Looking at Baseball Savant, Moustakas’ recent numbers at third base aren’t very good. While Moustakas accumulated 3 Outs Above Average (OAA) playing third base for the Brewers in 2018, he recorded -3 OAA in 2018 with the Kansas City Royals.

When the Brewers moved Moose the second base in 2019, he racked up 2 OAA at the keystone and -2 OAA when moved back to third base after Travis Shaw was optioned back to Triple-A. Last season, Moustakas put up 1 OAA at second base.

Instead, the Reds should move Nick Senzel to third base.

To piggyback off Steven Offenbaker’s idea to shuffle the Cincinnati Reds infield, rather than moving Mike Moustakas to third base and Nick Senzel to second, perhaps Bell could keep Moose at second base and shift Senzel from center field to third base.

The majority of Senzel’s college and minor league experience was at third base. In fact, Senzel’s .955 fielding percentage while playing third base in the minor leagues, is identical to Suárez’s fielding percentage while defending the hot corner in the major leagues. Moustakas’ career-fielding percentage at third base is slightly higher at .960.

I’m certainly not opposed to shuffling the Cincinnati Reds roster. Putting Eugenio Suárez at shortstop and moving Nick Senzel to the infield dirt would allow David Bell to put the best lineup in the game on a regular basis and allow Dee Strange-Gordon and Kyle Farmer to play utility roles rather than start at shortstop.

Next. 3 trade packages for Nick Senzel

I highly doubt that David Bell will listen to me or Steven Offenbaker when it comes to setting his lineup. I also find it unlikely that Bell will alter his strategy heading out of Arizona, so expect to see Farmer or Strange-Gordon as the Opening Day shortstop. However, if the experiment fails, perhaps we’ll see an infield shift sometime during the season.