Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel went 4-for-4 on Thursday afternoon, bumping his batting average up to .221 on the season. While the coaching staff is certainly hopeful that Senzel will continue to string together solid ABs, it's been his defense that has surprised so many this season.
Senzel said before the season began that his only goal was to play 140-150 games in 2022. A couple trips to the COVID IL may keep the 26-year-old from achieving that, but when Senzel has been in the lineup, he's been a solid contributor.
When the former first-round pick isn't getting it done at the dish, he's definitely turning heads with his play on the outfield grass. Senzel has demonstrated an uncanny ability this season to track the ball off the bat and make several not-so-routine plays in center field.
Nick Senzel is beginning to show the promise that Reds fans have been waiting for.
The talent has never been in question. Nick Senzel showed, during his time at the University of Tennessee and in the minor leagues, that he has what it takes to perform at the highest level.
But so many injuries throughout his professional career have zapped any chance of Senzel becoming that type of cornerstone player that the outfielder has the potential to be. Senzel has battled vertigo, knee injuries, shoulder surgery, and any number of maladies since being drafted by the Reds in 2016.
And while Senzel has made two trips to the IL this season, both were due to illness, not injury. I firmly believe that Senzel is correct in his assertion (via MLB.com) that if he's able to consistently be on the field, "good things will happen."
One good things that we've seen from Nick Senzel in 2022 has been an improvement on the defensive side of things. Let's not forget that Senzel is an infielder playing in the outfield. Yes, he's spent the majority of his major league career in center field, but hadn't played a single game on the outfield grass until his rookie season of 2019.
There's an argument to made, I'm sure, but Senzel is the most athletic player on the Cincinnati Reds roster. You line Senzel up at almost any position besides catcher, and he'd probably have the wherewithal to handle himself.
According to Baseball Savant, Nick Senzel leads all Reds players in outs above average (2). Milwaukee Brewers' Lorenzo Cain (3) and Arizona Diamondbacks Daulton Varsho are the only National League centerfielders with more OAA.
Let's hope that Senzel continues to stay on the field. So far, he's appeared in 21 of the Cincinnati Reds 44 games. It'll be tough, with regular off days, for Senzel to reach his goal of 140 games played, but if he's anywhere in the vicinity and avoids another trip to the Injured List, you'd have to assume that he'd consider the 2022 season to be a success.