Nick Senzel's new batting stance is providing harder hit balls, but not base hits for the Reds' outfielder

Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) walks back to the dugout.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Nick Senzel (15) walks back to the dugout. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

It's a very small sample-size, but if Nick Senzel's goal with his new batting stance is to increase his hard-hit rate, the Cincinnati Reds centerfielder is succeeding. The problem is, as of now, it's not bringing any base hits along with it.

A hard-hit ball is defined by as having an exit velocity of 95 mph or more. While not everyone may subscribe to the new metrics, the evidence is striking. According to Baseball Savant, Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Schwarber are the league leaders in hard-hit rate.

While Judge, Alvarez, and Schwarber are all in the 99th percentile in this category, Senzel's hard-hit rate (34.0%) has him in the 18th percentile according to Baseball Savant.

Reds CF Nick Senzel has struggled at the plate this season.

Nick Senzel was the Cincinnati Reds first-round draft selection in 2016 and the 27-year-old has failed to live up to the hype. While injuries have been a big reason for Senzel's lack of success in the major leagues, the University of Tennessee product has suffered tremendously from a lack of power as well.

The Reds have tinkered with Senzel's swing before. During his rookie campaign in 2019, then hitting coach Turner Ward had grand plans for Senzel's swing. Those adjustments yielded very poor results and Senzel returned to his normal swing shortly before injuring his shoulder and missing the remainder of his rookie season.

The abbreviated 2020 season was even more abbreviated for Senzel who missed 30 games due to illness. Last season only saw Senzel play in 36 games before being shutdown due to a knee injury. This season has been a relatively healthy one for Senzel, but the results have been few and far between. Senzel is hitting just .229/.294/.297.

Nick Senzel's new batting stance is providing harder hit balls.

Those numbers will not keep Nick Senzel in the lineup next season, and this latest swing adjustment may be an acknowledgment of that. Since missing the final two games of the Cincinnati Reds series in Milwaukee, the Reds centerfielder has adjusted his batting stance and made 16 plate appearances.

In those 16 plate appearances, Senzel has recorded one base hit, a walk, and two strikeouts. Of the 13 balls that Senzel has put in play, 11 have been "hard-hit" (95 mph exit velocity or above) balls. That's a good sign, but it's only yielded one base hit.

This will be an interesting storyline to follow for the remainder of the 2022 season and into next year's spring training. The Cincinnati Reds are toying with the idea of making Senzel into a super utility player, but also have no real successor in center field.

With three years of team control remaining, it's difficult to see the Reds cutting ties with Senzel during the offseason despite his consistent lack of production at the plate. Look for Senzel to maintain a starting spot on next year's roster, but if these changes don't bring results, Senzel's role with the club could be changing rather rapidly beginning next season.

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