I was skimming through AM radio stations the other night when a discussion caught my attention. A local sports talk show host asked the following question: “Which outfielder will have the best season and which outfielder will have the second-best season for the Reds in 2020?” Nick Castellanos was assumed to have the best season while Jesse Winker, Shogo Akiyama, and even Phillip Ervin were mentioned as candidates to have the second best season. Nick Senzel was almost absent from the conversation. The host commented on how Senzel is going to struggle to find at-bats in the crowded Cincinnati Reds outfield.
There’s been a lot of weirdness going on with Nick Senzel this off-season. He’s been rehabbing from a shoulder injury and he’s been mentioned in trade rumors. Senzel has also been devalued by many Reds fans. They were (and still are) ready to ship him off for a year of “all in” and now there’s talk of him barely getting playing time and at bats in the outfield.
I think many of us have forgotten that Nick Senzel is the crown jewel of the Reds rebuild. He was the prize for a 98-loss season. The former TOP 5 prospect in baseball was (and still is to some) the hope and the future. Senzel has shown his ability through every level of the minor leagues and half a season in the big leagues.
There’s an argument that Nick Senzel is injury prone. A big part of Shogo Akiyama being signed was because of this. He’s an insurance policy and a nice player. Akiyama is going to get at-bats and playing time in center field. He’s going to be the first guy to come off the bench. What Shogo Akiyama shouldn’t be is a player that steals significant playing time from one of the most polished prospects the Reds have had in years. Shogo Akiyama wasn’t a block buster free agent signing whose talent level demands playing time.
Just a year ago Reds’ fans were beyond excited for Nick Senzel to make his debut on Opening Day. Soon after, they were upset to learn he would start the season in Louisville. Fast forward a year later and Senzel is an afterthought – a guy many don’t consider to be a significant contributor on this years team.
Who’s going to be the second-best player in the Reds outfield in 2020?
I think I have my answer: Nick Senzel