Reds: Nick Senzel’s versatility gives David Bell limitless possibilities

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Nick Senzel (15) plays a ground ball.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Nick Senzel (15) plays a ground ball. /

Last night, we saw Nick Senzel start at second base for the Cincinnati Reds. Tonight, the former first-round pick is back in the leadoff spot and playing center field. Senzel’s versatility will be something David Bell can turn to night-in and night-out, and it will allow the 26-year-old to play a key role in the Reds success this season and beyond.

When Senzel was chosen in the first-round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the thought was that the University of Tennessee star would eventually be the Opening Day starter at third base for the Cincinnati. Fast-forward almost five years, and Senzel has played just one inning at the hot corner during his major league career.

Nick Senzel can start at three different positions for the Reds.

While he has yet to start at third base for the Cincinnati Reds, 195 starts in the minors and 45 games while at UT suggest Senzel is quite capable of fielding the position. Senzel also played 57 games at second base while playing for the Volunteers in Knoxville and saw 28 starts at the keystone during his time in the minor leagues.

The funny thing is, until Nick Senzel was called up to the big leagues in 2019, he had only played eight games in center field. The Reds wanted to get Senzel’s bat in the lineup, but Eugenio Suarez had just signed a seven-year contract to be the team’s starting third baseman. With Billy Hamilton having been released, Cincinnati decided Senzel could handle the rigors of the outfield.

Senzel’s rookie season was cut short by a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery, and an illness kept the former No. 2 overall pick out of the lineup for nearly half the pandemic-shortened season in 2020. This season, however, Senzel has been available for nearly every game.

Nick Senzel has yet to start at third base for the Reds.

Interestingly enough, Nick Senzel has yet to start a game in the major leagues at the position with which he’s most familiar; third base. During 2019 and 2020, that position belonged to Eugenio Suarez. Mike Moustakas returned to the hot corner this season; a move that allowed Suarez to return to his original position of shortstop.

With the emergence of Jonathan India, it’ll be interesting to see how David Bell juggles his infield with the absence of Joey Votto. The former MVP was placed on the 10-day injured list yesterday with a broken thumb, and is expected to miss about a month. Moustakas started at first base yesterday, and Suarez returned to third base with Kyle Farmer fielding shortstop.

Today, India is back in the lineup at second base and Senzel is back in center field, flanked by Nick Castellanos in right and Tyler Naquin in left. The designated hitter allows Bell to have a easier time getting ABs for his key players, but that luxury will go away after its interleague series concludes on Sunday afternoon.

Senzel should bat leadoff, but there's a catch. Next

Nick Senzel’s versatility is quite remarkable, and I for one think he could play shortstop in a pinch, and do it quite well. Senzel is starting to find his footing in the batter’s box as well, as he’s 8-for-23 in his last seven games with a .444 on-base percentage.