The 2021 season is one that Cincinnati Reds‘ centerfielder Nick Senzel would like forget. It’s hard to be overly critical of a player whose performance is limited by injury, but in the case of Senzel, I’m willing to make an exception. Let’s review Senzel’s 2021 campaign; don’t worry, this won’t take long, he only appeared in 36 games.
Senzel, a former first-round pick, was handed the starting job in center field back in 2019. Yes, Scott Schebler broke camp as the team’s starting centerfielder that season, but Senzel took over by the time May rolled around.
Senzel’s minor league career had been marked by consistently hitting over .300, showing slightly above-avergae power, and displaying legitimate legitimate speed on thee base paths. Senzel’s minor league career also saw him fall victim to an array of obscure injuries.
The Reds No. 2 overall pick in 2016, Senzel was supposed to be a cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old’s major league career has been defined by injury, not his play on the field.
Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel appeared in just 36 games in 2021.
Nick Senzel has the ability to field multiple positions, the ability to get on base, and the ability to hit for average and for power. Unfortunately, there’s one ability Senzel has yet to show since arriving in the big leagues…avail-ability.
Senzel has played in a grand total of 163 games since being promoted to the majors in May of 2019. The former University of Tennessee alum missed time during his rookie season with a shoulder injury, was shelved for half of last season’s pandemic-shortened 60-game schedule with an illness, and barely made it to the middle of May this season before landing on the IL.
Senzel appeared in just 22% of his team’s contests this season. For his career, Senzel has played in 163 of a possible 353 games. The third-year outfielder has missed 54% of his playing time over the past three seasons.
While he didn’t display much power this season, Senzel did reach base at a .323 clip, which is the best of his career to this point. He also really cut down on his strikeouts, putting up a 12.9% K-rate, his lowest playing rookie ball in 2016.
Nick Senzel’s talent has never been in question. The young man can play the game of baseball. The problem is, Reds Country has never seen Senzel get consistent opportunities because it seems like he’s always on the IL.
This offseason may well define Senzel’s career. Have the Reds grown tired of his inability to stay healthy? Is the front office looking to deal Senzel this winter? Will he have competition for the starting job center field next season? Will Senzel have fully recovered from knee surgery?
The simplest grade to give Nick Senzel would be an incomplete, however, I’m not going to go there. Senzel’s lack of playing time will saddle the former first-rounder with a D- for his 2021 performance. I’m not ready to give up on Senzel just yet, but he’s running out of time to prove himself. Senzel will be up for arbitration after next season.