Tapping into his power is the next step in Nick Senzel's evolution with the Reds

Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Nick Senzel (15) hits a home run.
Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Nick Senzel (15) hits a home run. / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel returned to the lineup on Friday night with a bang. Hitting fifth behind first baseman Mike Moustatkas, Senzel launched a home run into the left field seat in the top of the second inning.

According to Baseball Savant, the ball travelled 410 feet and came off Senzel's bat at 103.8 mph. That was just Senzel's fourth home run of the 2022 season and just his seventh in the last three seasons. Granted, the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and injuries have limited his availability, but it's apparent that the power aspect of Senzel's game is lacking.

It's great to see Nick Senzel on the field and not on the IL. His 2022 campaign has seen Senzel appear in 85 games thus far and his time on the IL has been due to illness, not injury. But the next step in Senzel's evolution is finding a way to tap into his power.

Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel needs to tap into his power.

Nick Senzel is probably never going to record a 30-plus home run season. That's not his game. But hitting 15 or more round trippers in a season isn't asking too much of the 27-year-old outfielder.

Senzel has kept his strikeout-rate below 20%, which is expected, but his on-base percentage is still barely above .300. That combined with his lack of power will have some questioning whether or not Senzel will be a fixture in the Cincinnati Reds lineup heading into next season.

Looking at Baseball Savant, Senzel is among the fastest players in the game, registering a sprint speed of 28.5 ft/s. That's down from previous years, but still keeps Senzel in the 83rd percentile among all major league players. However, Senzel was in the 90th percentile and above during his previous three seasons.

Unfortunately, there's not much else that stands out in terms of advanced metrics. Senzel's average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and barrel-rate all rank among 23rd percentile or worse. That's definitely an area he'll need to improve upon in the offseason if the former first-round pick hopes to maintain his everyday player status.

Nick Senzel does not need to increase his look to launch every pitch he sees, as that will only increase his strikeout-rate. But Senzel needs to tap into that gap-to-gap power that made him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. Perhaps Friday's dinger was a harbinger of things to come.

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