Reds news: Nick Senzel is the best among a bad defensive infield

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 11: Nick Senzel #15 of the Cincinnati Reds in action. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

It seems like no matter where Nick Senzel lines up on the infield dirt, he’s unequivocally the Cincinnati Reds best defender. For the first two seasons, the front office and coaching staff were adamant that Senzel be the team’s everyday centerfielder. But additions to the outfield and Senzel stellar defensive play are causing the team to rethink their ideas.

The Reds defense was all-around atrocious last night, save for the phenomenal play of Senzel while starting his second game at third base this season. Prior to Opening Day, David Bell shifted Eugenio Suarez to shortstop and moved Mike Moustakas to the hot corner with the idea of starting Jonathan India at second base.

Reds third baseman Nick Senzel made two Gold Glove-caliber plays last night.

In the top of the fifth inning, former MVP Buster Posey hit a soft ground ball down the third base line. Nick Senzel scooped and delivered an off-balanced throw the awaiting Kyle Farmer at first base to record the second out of the inning. Unfortunately for starting pitcher Sonny Gray, he surrendered a home run to the next batter, Mike Yastrzemski, putting the Giants up 4-0.

Senzel’s second fabulous, and more impressive defensive play, came in the top of the seventh inning with Posey up once more. Another weak ground ball, slowed by the grass, found its way to a charging Senzel who scooped the ball with his barehand and threw on to first base in time to secure the out.

Senzel played third base exclusively during his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee and has 195 career starts at third base over his three minor league seasons, so it should come as no surprise that the former first-round pick can hold his own at the hot corner.

In an infield that features the below-average defense of Eugenio Suarez at shortstop, Nick Senzel has shined in his eight infield starts this season. While Senzel’s error in Wade Miley’s no-hitter prevented the left-hander from earning a perfect game, the former No. 2 overall pick made some fantastic defensive plays in that game as well while playing second base.

Nick Senzel needs as many starts in the infield as the Reds can give him.

Several fans have argued for the past three winters that Nick Senzel has no business playing center field and that his injury history is only going to lead to more physical wear and tear. However, Senzel’s versatility is one of his best attributes.

Senzel may be the lone player, outside of maybe Kyle Farmer, who could line up anywhere on the diamond and be a solid defensive player. In a day when exit velocity and launch angle are all the rage, having a sound defense around the infield is paramount if you want to play winning baseball.

We saw last night, and have seen early and often this season, that poor defensive play will lead to undesirable results. The Cincinnati Reds committed two errors last night and a costly mistake in the eighth inning gave the San Francisco Giants a 6-1 cushion.

Jonathan India committed his fourth error of the season when a potential inning-ending double play went awry. India mishandled the one-hopper and flipped the ball over the head of Eugenio Suarez who was covering second base. Buster Posey scored and the Reds trailed 1-0.

In the fourth inning, Suarez joined the comedy of errors when he failed to properly transfer a ground ball from his glove to his throwing hand. The E6 allowed Brandon Crawford to reach base safely and the next batter, Wilmer Flores, sent Gray’s second pitch of the at-bat into the seats in right field.

The final nail in the coffin came when a pick-off play turned into a run for the Giants. With Austin Slater on first base and Darin Run occupying third with two outs, Reds pitcher Cionel Perez threw to first, and while Slater was caught in the rundown, Run crossed the plate before the Reds applied the tag to end the inning.

The Reds bullpen is becoming a strength. Next

The Cincinnati Reds get a chance to redeem themselves tonight and they’ll have an old friend on the mound as Anthony DeSclafani will toe the rubber for thee Giants. We’ll see if Nick Senzel’s sensational defense sees the 26-year-old earn his third start of the season at third base.