Reds centerfielder Nick Senzel is a household name throughout the city of Cincinnati. Finding a Reds fan that doesn't know who he is, would be about as common as finding a five-leaf clover growing in your backyard. A greater task, however, is finding a Cincinnati Reds fan content with Senzel's output thus far.
Senzel hasn't lived up to expectations, but built a sizable resume previous to his call-up in 2019. In his junior year of college, Senzel slashed .352/.456/.595 with eight home runs, 25 doubles, 57 RBIs, and 25 stolen bases in 57 games. The Reds then selected Senzel as the second-overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
Is Nick Senzel on the verge of a breakout season for the Reds?
Senzel's production didn't stop there, as he hit .340/.413/.560 with 10 home runs in 57 games, and was selected as a Minor League All-Star. More impressively, Senzel maintained his success in Triple-A as a .300 hitter with upside, but bouts with vertigo halted his progression.
Over the course of three major league seasons, Nick Senzel has over 13 occurrences where he's had to miss games, including a shoulder and knee injuried, the latter of which sent him to the IL for the majority of last season.
Nick Senzel has all the tools needed to be an impactful player in the Cincinnati Reds lineup, and could be on the verge of a breakout season. His athleticism brings an immediate boost the lineup. Senzel is a career .271 hitter against lefties; an extremely valuable skill, as the Reds were ranked dead last against left-handed pitchers (hitting .225) in 2021.
If Senzel isn't starting in center field for the Reds in 2022, the alternative would be Shogo Akiyama or TJ Friedl. Akiyama's a career .217 hitter against lefties, and produced a miserable .204 average through 88 games in 2021. Unless the Reds make massive acquisitions in centerfield, giving Nick Senzel one more shot would be the most prudent move Cincinnati could make.
We saw a glimpse of what Friedl can provide as he hit .290 - including a home run for his first hit in the majors. The key takeaway from his 25-game rookie campaign was the fact that Friedl only struck out twice in 36 plate appearances. TJ Friedl is certainly a talented hitter, but hasn't done enough to prove to be a better hitter/defender than Senzel.
At the end of the day, Nick Senzel is an inexpensive, albeit unreliable option in center field. The Reds have little depth behind him at the major league level, but if the 26-year-old doesn't prove that he can remain healthy, the Cincinnati Reds may look to move on after the 2022 season.