Nick Senzel said before the season started that if he could just stay on the field, the results would follow. While the Cincinnati Reds centerfielder has experienced a few hiccups this season, Senzel has been on the field for the majority of the 2022 season.
While Senzel has been on the IL for 24 days this season, both times were not due to injury but illness. Senzel was on the COVID IL in mid-April with what would later be deemed a stomach bug, and the 26-year-old missed a chunk of time in May with an illness.
But Senzel has been back in the Reds since late-May and the former first-round pick is one of the Reds hottest hitters at the moment. Over his last seven games, Senzel is hitting .323 with a .364 on-base percentage.
With Jonathan India out of the lineup since May 1st, Senzel's return late last month saw the outfielder installed as David Bell's leadoff hitter. The additional speed atop the lineup has been a huge boost to this team with India on the mend.
Reds CF Nick Senzel is picking up steam.
I know there will be those who read this and immediately cite Nick Senzel's injury history. Yes, the University of Tennessee product has struggled to stay healthy since coming to the major leagues. There's no disputing that.
But maybe, just maybe, this time is different. Senzel was taken with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft for a reason. The talent is there. Even after moving the long time infielder to the outfield grass, we never heard a complaint. In fact, Senzel has embraced the idea of being an outfielder.
According to Baseball Savant, Nick Senzel has been the Cincinnati Reds best defensive outfielder in 2022. The Atlanta native has 2 outs above average (OAA) which is tied with Brandon Drury for the most on the team. Among NL centerfielders, only Harrison Bader (STL), Brandon Nimmo (NYM), and Daulton Varsho (ARI) have more OAA.
But we've seen time and time again, defense can only take you so far. Aristides Aquino has a cannon and has one of the most feared arms in the game, but his struggles at the plate will likely see The Punisher designated for assignment once again.
Nick Senzel knows the strike zone. In fact, if there's been one shortcoming in the outfielder's game this season it's been that he's been a bit too patient at the plate. Senzel, according to FanGraphs, has a walk-rate of just 5.5%. But Senzel is not just up there hacking away; his strikeout-rate is below 20%.
If Nick Senzel can tap into that power that we know he has, the Reds centerfielder has the potential to be one of the better bats in Cincinnati's lineup. Don't forget that Jonathan India had just six round trippers at the All-Star break last season and finished with 21 on the season. If Senzel can stay healthy, I expect to see similar results.