Reds defense is vastly improved with Nick Senzel replacing Spencer Steer at third base

Cincinnati Reds third baseman Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds third baseman Nick Senzel / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

For all those Cincinnati Reds fans who've been advocating to see Nick Senzel play third base for the past several years, your wish has come true.

Over the past couple of weeks, Senzel has seen plenty of starts at the hot corner as opposed to center field. Of Senzel's last 10 starts, six have been exclusively at third base. In the other four games, Senzel has either started at third and moved to center field or vise versa.

The results on the defensive side of the ball have been quite impressive. While the advanced defensive metrics don't necessarily prove it, anyone who's watched baseball for any length of time can see that Senzel feels much more comfortable at third base.

Reds defense is vastly improved with Nick Senzel replacing Spencer Steer at 3B.

Nick Senzel has seen more time at third base recently due to the fact that Wil Myers had been on the Injured List. But, even once Myers returned from the IL on Saturday, Senzel drew the start at the hot corner while Myers was in the outfield and Spencer Steer lined up at first base.

Senzel is a far superior defender to Steer, and the numbers bear that out. According to FanGraphs, Senzel has -1 defensive runs saved (DRS) and 0 outs above average (OAA) in 83 innings at third base. Steer, however, has been worth -1 DRS at the hot corner and -2 OAA according to FanGraphs.

The results are obviously not drastic, but Senzel more than passes the eye test and has a much better arm than Steer. It's also worth noting that throughout his career, Senzel has -18 DRS while playing center field. TJ Friedl, who's replaced Senzel in center field, has 4 DRS this season and 1 OAA according to FanGraphs.

In short, the Cincinnati Reds defense as a whole is just better when Nick Senzel is at third base and TJ Friedl is in center field. Based on the way both players have been hitting lately, the Reds lineup is better as well.

Over the past 10 games, Senzel has hit .395/.439/.658 with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and a wRC+ of 192. Over that same span, Friedl is slashing .355/.344/.548 with three extra-base hits and a wRC+ of 129.

What does this mean when Joey Votto returns to the Cincinnati Reds lineup? There's plenty of time to discuss that. At the moment, just enjoy the fact that Nick Senzel is playing the best baseball of his professional career.

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