3 Cincinnati Reds who are looking for redemption in 2022

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) asks for a swing to be checked.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) asks for a swing to be checked. / Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services,
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The MLB lockout has soured a good deal of fans lately, but I firmly believe we'll have a season in 2022. Under that assumption, there's several players on the Cincinnati Reds roster who underperformed in 2021 and will be looking for redemption in 2022.

Every year, as spring training begins, expectations among fans and players are extremely high. The optimism that comes with a fresh start can give new life to players who struggled mightily just a season ago.

Perhaps it was a nagging injury that prevented them from hitting their ceiling. Maybe a grizzled veteran outshined a young prospect in spring camp and was able to garner more playing time. Or maybe it just wasn't their year. Whatever it was, a new season gives the opportunity for those who struggled a season ago to redeem themselves. Which Reds players are looking for redemption in 2022?

1. Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds pitcher

No Reds player received more criticism last season than Amir Garrett. The brash left-handed reliever received a piece of humble pie in 2021 after his performance failed to live up to his vocal aspirations. Garrett entered spring training as the self-proclaimed closer after Cincinnati parted ways with Raisel Iglesias. AG, unfortunately, couldn't back up his words with on-field success.

In 2021, Garrett posted a 6.04 ERA; his worst since becoming a reliever. While his strikeout numbers were still solid (28.4% K-rate), he walked way too many batters (13.5% walk-rate). That led to AG's lowest K-BB% (14.9%) since he switched from a starting pitcher to a reliever.

Amir Garrett actually utilized his slider less in 2021 than he did in both 2019 and 2022, going to his breaking pitch only 51.1% of the time. Garrett's velocity, however, was unaffected as the left-hander was still getting his fastball to the plate at an average of nearly 95 MPH.

AG is a prime candidate for a bounce-back season. With an improved Cincinnati Reds bullpen, it's unlikely that Garrett will called upon in high-leverage situations early on in 2021. Luis Cessa, Lucas Sims, and even Art Warren may have surpassed Garrett in that department.

A little pressure might actually be a good thing for Amir Garrett. While the southpaw assumed he was ready for the biggest stage, the 2021 season was a reminder that he's not there yet. It takes a different type of mentality to close out games, and while AG may be able to get to that point, he's going to have to prove it in 2022.

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Nick Senzel (15) plays a ground ball.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Nick Senzel (15) plays a ground ball. / Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services,

2. Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds centerfielder

Nobody needs a bounce-back season more than Nick Senzel. Heck, he'd probably settle for just a season on the field. Injuries have robbed the former first-round pick of any opportunity he's had to cement himself as an everyday player for the Cincinnati Reds, but unless the front office adds an outfielder after the MLB lockout is over, the starting job is center field is his to lose.

Reds fans have grown tired of the lack of durability the 26-year-old has displayed during his professional career. Senzel missed several games during his rookie season with any number of odd injuries and was finally shelved with a shoulder injury. He missed half of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season with an illness, and played just 36 games in 2021

It's not ability that is keeping Senzel from becoming a regular in the Cincinnati lineup. It's avail-ability. Just like Amir Garrett, Nick Senzel will have to gut it out during spring training in order to find a spot in the lineup, and I think regardless of how he performs, we're likely to see the former No. 2 overall pick platoon in center field when the 2022 season begins.

How the front office handles things after the lockout will determine who David Bell will pair with Nick Senzel in center field. If no additions are made, expect to see Shogo Akiyama and TJ Friedl platoon up the middle with Senzel. But, if a corner outfielder is signed, Tyler Naquin will undoubtedly get his fair share of playing time in center field as well.

This is where the buck stops for Nick Senzel. If he can't be on the field for 100-plus games in 2022, his time in Cincinnati is likely over. The Reds have Senzel under team control through the 2025 season, but he's proven to be less than durable during his time in the Queen City.

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas (9) reacts.
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas (9) reacts. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

3. Mike Moustakas, Cincinnati Reds third baseman

Okay, while Mike Moustakas is listed as a third baseman, we all know that the designated hitter is coming to the National League and that will be Moose's role in 2022. Perhaps that's a good thing, as the three-time All-Star can ditch the glove and just focus on hitting; something that he hasn't faired well with since coming to the Queen City.

Moustakas is Cincinnati's second-highest paid player behind only Joey Votto. Moose's $16M salary in 2022 demands that he perform better than he did during his first two years of the massive four-year/$64M contract he signed prior to 2020.

Moustakas was brought to Cincinnati to play second base, but that is no longer in the cards as Jonathan India has that position on lockdown. Some fans thought Moose would eventually supplant Votto at first base. After the former MVP's resurgent season in 2021, Moustakas will not be filling in for Votto very often, if at all.

Third base was Moose's primary position in 2021, but after suffering a foot injury that eventually became more than a 10-day trip to the IL would solve, Moustakas was replaced by Eugenio Suárez. Geno struggled in his own right last season, but defensively, Suárez was better at the hot corner than the former World Champion.

Nope, if Mike Moustakas is going to make an impact with the Cincinnati Reds in 2022, it's going to be as the team's designated hitter. Moustakas played in just 62 games for the Redlegs in 2021 and had just six round trippers. Moose's wRC+ of 70 and his fWAR of -0.4 are the worst of the veteran's big league career.

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Moustakas still has power from the left side, and while strikeouts have always been part of the 33-year-old's makeup, if he can lower his strikeout-rate to what we saw with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2019 (16.8%), Moose could have a nice bounce-back season in 2022.