Super utility role could be a blessing in disguise for Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel

Cincinnati Reds Nick Senzel
Cincinnati Reds Nick Senzel / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer posted a picture to Twitter on Tuesday of Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel taking ground balls at third base. Nightengale opined that the Cincinnati Reds may be looking to move Senzel into a super utility role when Albert Almora Jr. returns to the lineup.

Senzel didn't spend a lick of playing time in the outfield during his college years or throughout his time in the minor leagues. But after the Reds designated Billy Hamilton for assignment following the 2018 season, the organization decided to give Senzel an opportunity to earn an everyday role as the Reds centerfielder.

Cincinnati then doubled-down on their efforts to transform Senzel into an outfielder after the 2019 season. Having said goodbye to Scooter Gennett, the Reds had a golden opportunity to make Senzel the team's starting second basemen. Instead, the front office signed Mike Moustakas to play second base and kept Senzel in the outfield.

Reds CF Nick Senzel may return to the infield in 2023.

Injuries have plagued Nick Senzel throughout his professional career. After playing 104 games as a rookie in 2019, Senzel appeared in just 59 games during the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined. This season, while the former No. 2 overall pick has missed time due to illness, Senzel has played in 89 games.

Senzel is under team control for three more seasons, and still feels as though the 27-year-old has a very undefined role with the club. Senzel plays his heart out each and every time he takes the field and there may not be a player on the team with more hustle.

But the production has fallen short of the expectation. Senzel is hitting just .244/.303/.320 with four home runs and 22 RBIs. When it comes to advanced metrics, the only things that really jumps off the page is Senzel's sprint speed, which, according to Baseball Savant, ranks in the 84th percentile.

The 2022 seasons has been a crucial one for Nick Senzel, as it was imperative that the former first-round pick prove that he can remain healthy. If Senzel is able to play out the remainder of the season, he'll likely set a career-high for games played. That's a step in the right direction.

But in order for Senzel to take the next step, he my need to humble himself a bit and take a lesser role with the team heading into the 2023 season. The super utility role that Bobby Nightengale suggests would be perfect for Senzel, and it's a role that Kyle Farmer occupied for two-plus seasons.

Nick Senzel is a talented athlete and has always been a team-first type of player. Next season may really test his resolve. With so many young players coming up through the pipeline, Senzel's playing time may take a hit. But it could be a blessing in disguise for the University of Tennessee alum.

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