Cincinnati Reds: 3 biggest X-factors for the 2021 season

Mar 9, 2021; Goodyear, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez (7) looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of a spring training game. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2021; Goodyear, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez (7) looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of a spring training game. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) bats.
Mar 9, 2021; Goodyear, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) bats. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Can Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel reach his full potential?

This is the big one. Nick Senzel debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 2019 and had a successful campaign until a shoulder injury wiped out the final month of his rookie season. Last season, Senzel was riding a hot streak and an illness halted what could have been a breakout season. Senzel must be in the lineup in order for the Reds to make a playoff push in 2021.

It’s really that simple. After not adding any offensive weapons this winter, the Reds front office is banking on increased production from last year’s free agent class and their former first-round pick. With a full 162-game season, I think Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos will return to form. Shogo Akiyama is still a question mark, but the biggest question mark is Nick Senzel.

Can the former No. 2 overall pick stay healthy? That may be a bit of an unfair question, but it’s the reality of the situation. I’m a big fan of Senzel, and maintain that he can be Cincinnati’s best player. However, if he’s unable to stay on the field, he can’t help his team win games.

Nick Senzel is the perfect leadoff hitter for this Cincinnati team. He has the speed to swipe upwards of 20 bags this season and the power to slug 20-plus home runs. Senzel has a keen eye at the dish and has looked great this spring (.324/.419/.541).

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The debate about whether or not he can defend center field is no longer relevant either. While the 25-year-old may never be an elite centerfielder, Senzel is athletic enough to hold down the position. The question of Senzel’s impact on the team is not talent, it’s availability. If he can stay healthy, the sky’s the limit for Nick Senzel.