3 Cincinnati Reds players we should lower the bar for in 2022

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Senzel walks back to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds outfielder Nick Senzel walks back to the dugout. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Cincinnati Reds, America's first professional sports team, have a rabid fanbase with high standards.

We always expect the absolute best from professional athletes. But sometimes we have to adjust our expectations.

Reds fans may need to adjust their expectations in 2022.

As the MLB lockout drones on, fans are left to contemplate what the team will look like in 2022.

Honestly, I don't expect a much different roster than the one Reds GM Nick Krall has been left with while all transactions are frozen.

So, if this is it, I think it's fair to say that Reds Country is going to have to lower the bar heading into next season.

Tucker Barnhart was traded, Wade Miley was placed on waivers, and Nick Castellanos is likely to land a new deal elsewhere.

While fans will likely have to lower the bar for the team as a whole, there's a handful of players who'll need the same treatment.

1. Nick Senzel, Reds centerfielder

I have been a fan of Nick Senzel since the Cincinnati Reds drafted the University of Tennessee star No. 2 overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.

While I still hold out hope that the 26-year-old will put it all together, his track record doesn't offer much.

I'm not here to debate whether Senzel should play third base, second base, center field, or even catcher. That's irrelevant at this point.

If the former first-round pick can just stay on the field in 2022, Reds fans should consider that a success.

Every season that Senzel has been in The Show, he's found his way onto the injured list.

While several occasions have been freak incidents, some of his injuries have been much more severe.

A shoulder injury that required surgery ended Senzel's rookie season prematurely, and a knee injury limited the outfielder to just 36 games last season.

Nick Senzel is the prototypical five-tool player. He can hit for both power and average, has speed, and plays above-average defense.

The one thing holding Senzel back from reaching his full potential is an inability to stay healthy.

I think it's time for Reds fans lower their expectations for Nick Senzel and just be hopeful that he can play in 120-plus games next season.

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) prepares to pitch.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) prepares to pitch. / Albert Cesare / The Enquirer via Imagn

2. Amir Garrett, Reds pitcher

Amir Garrett, surprisingly, survived the non-tender deadline and is still part of the Cincinnati Reds organization.

However, it's time for Reds fans to stop counting on AG, especially to close out games.

The moment was too big for Garrett last season. After bragging all offseason about being the Reds closer in 2021, AG was served a piece of humble pie.

The left-hander posted a 6.04 ERA in 47.2 innings of work and a 5.48 BB/9.

Garrett went from lockdown reliever in the back of the bullpen to a pitcher David Bell would call on when the game no longer hung in the balance.

Amir Garrett has always been fantastic against left-handed batters, but even they got the better of AG in 2021.

Garrett allowed lefties to hit .226 in 2021 after allowing a batting average against of just .043 to left-handed hitters in 2020.

Under no circumstances should Garrett get the ball anytime after the seventh inning unless the game is wildly out of control.

AG needs to prove himself once again if he ever hopes to be called upon late in games.

I think it's fair to say that fans of the Cincinnati Reds need to lower the bar for AG heading into the 2022 season.

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) bats.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shogo Akiyama (4) bats. / David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

3. Shogo Akiyama, Reds outfielder

Was there a bigger miss during Cincinnati's free agent spending spree following the 2019 season than inking Shogo Akiyama to a three-year/$21M deal?

I'm not going to completely absolve the Reds front office and coaching staff for the way Akiyama has been used since joining the team, but much of this falls on the 33-year-old himself.

Akiyama's abrupt exit from spring training to tend to his wife and a hamstring injury to begin the season really slowed the outfielder's momentum.

Akiyama had his rookie season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and missed out on crucial time with the coaching staff and teammates that offseason as well.

Perhaps Akiyama will have a calmer offseason this winter and be able to hone his craft following a disappointing start to his major league career.

If there's one area where Shogo Akiyama excels, it's defense. The former Seibu Lions star has made some spectacular defensive catches during his time in Cincinnati.

Fans are going to have to lower the bar for Akiyama heading into next season, as the left-handed hitter has yet to produce much power.

Shogo Akiyama has not seen the ball go over the fence despite 366 career plate appearances.

Next. What does the Reds payroll look like post-lockout?. dark

Will Akiyama record his first major league homer next season? He's going to have to find a way to earn more playing time first.