The Cincinnati Reds are finally starting to use Nick Senzel correctly

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 25: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a hit. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 25: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds fields a hit. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Are the Cincinnati Reds finally using Nick Senzel correctly? The former first-round pick was seen taking ground balls at both second and third base prior to Sunday’s game versus the St. Louis Cardinals, and eventually took over at second base in the bottom of the eighth.

This isn’t Senzel’s first foray into the Cincinnati infield this season. On April 17th versus the Cleveland Indians, Senzel got a taste at third base late in the game as well. Is David Bell warming to the idea of playing Senzel all over the field a la Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs?

The Reds should not limit where Nick Senzel can play defensively.

Outside of Michael Lorenzen, Nick Senzel is the best pure athlete on the team. Senzel’s speed and athleticism are the primary reasons that Cincinnati’s front office felt the third-year pro could make the adjustment to center field. But, until recently, it seemed as though the Reds were dead set on turning their former first-round pick into a legitimate centerfielder.

Senzel has adapted very well to playing center field, but with the presence of Tyler Naquin and the imminent return of Shogo Akiyama, it appears that Cincinnati is trying to figure out ways to get their best bats into the lineup.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves; it’s only two innings. We’ve also seen Kyle Farmer play left field and even Alex Blandino has seen time in center field as a defensive replacement. Perhaps the coaches are just getting a feel for what Senzel can do defensively, and there are no longterm plans for him to return to the infield dirt.

To be honest, I’m fine with that. If that were the case, Nick Senzel would join a long line of productive major leaguers who can play both the infield and outfield. Kris Bryant, Whit Merrifield, and Chris Taylor come to mind.

Moving Nick Senzel around the diamond gives the Reds flexibility.

The Cincinnati Reds have struggled mightily to find a permanent spot for Nick Senzel. The team had the perfect opportunity to insert the University of Tennessee alum at second base prior to the 2020 season, but chose instead to sign Mike Moustakas. Now, the position appears to be Jonathan India’s to lose.

With Eugenio Suarez now fielding shortstop, there doesn’t seem to be a permanent spot on the field for Senzel. Again, that’s okay. Senzel is a Swiss Army knife and is capable of playing all over the field. Why limit the 25-year-old to just one position?

Without the designated hitter, using Senzel all the field could really free up David Bell to make more adjustments in game. The notion that playing multiple positions will affect Senzel’s production has been debunked by the stellar play of those who’ve done the job before him.

Bryant is a former MVP who’s played first and third base this season while also playing both corner outfield spots. Bryant currently has a .971 OPS. Merrifield has made a living a super utility player. Until this season, Merrifield has played first and second base as well as all three outfield positions. Taylor has played every position during his career expect first base and catcher.

If there’s any player on the Cincinnati Reds who can play both on the outfield grass and the infield dirt, it’s Nick Senzel. As for durability concerns, those are going to be there until Senzel proves that he can handle the rigors of a 162-game season.

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I’m not saying that Senzel needs to start X-amount of games at third base or replace Eugenio Suarez at shortstop. What I am saying is that it’s a pleasant surprise watching Senzel return to his roots, and in doing so, Bell can hang on to that additional arm in the bullpen the Reds are currently carrying.