The bar wasn’t set exceedingly high for the Cincinnati Reds heading into the 2021 season, but after gaining a measure of success and looking like a contender for the postseason, the expectations among the fanbase increased as play entered the month of September.
The Reds fell apart down the stretch. Whether it was fatigue, injury, or just plain bad play, Cincinnati didn’t meet the expectations of Reds Country and was left out of the playoffs.
As fans, we can be overly critical from time to time. When a lot is expected of a player and he doesn’t live up to the expectations, fans begin to grumble. While we can’t expect every player to have an All-Star season year-in and year-out, some expectations are warranted. These four Reds fell woefully short of the fan’s expectations and likely their own.
1. Nick Senzel, Reds centerfielder
Oh, Nick Senzel. The 2021 season was supposed to be make-or-break for the former first-round pick. Turns out, it was mostly break. While I’ve been an avid supporter of Senzel from the jump, his lack of production is wearing on my patience.
Senzel entered the season as the unquestioned starter in center field. Despite the $7M invested in Shogo Akiyama, David Bell was steadfast in his evaluation that Senzel was to be the Cincinnati Reds everyday centerfielder.
It took all of one game to see that wasn’t going to be possible. Senzel injured his shoulder diving for a fly ball during Opening Day and missed the next start. Thankfully for the Reds, Tyler Naquin stepped in and had a career-year.
Nick Senzel was shuffled between the outfield and the infield and eventually found his way onto the IL. After a rehab assignment at Triple-A Louisville proved that the former University of Tennessee star wasn’t 100% healthy, Senzel was placed back on the injured list and sent to the team’s training complex in Arizona for the remainder of the season.
Yes, Senzel has immense talent and should be one of the cornerstones of this Reds organization. But if the former No. 2 overall pick can’t stay healthy, then Cincinnati’s front office needs to find a long-term replacement in center field. I guess I’ll say it one more time; if he’s still on the team for Opening Day next season, the 2022 campaign will be make-or-break for Nick Senzel.