Post-Hype Sleeper: Can The Reds’ Nick Senzel Finally Live Up To The Hype?

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Remember when Nick Senzel was among the elite prospects in the game?  You don’t have to think back very far, as he was considered a Top 10 prospect heading into 2019.  However injuries played a role in what became a pedestrian rookie campaign:

375 At Bats
.256 Batting Average (96 Hits)
12 Home Runs
42 RBI
55 Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.315 On Base Percentage
.427 Slugging Percentage
.319 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Couple those results with a continued battle for playing time and it makes sense that the outlook for Senzel isn’t quite what it once was.  The fact is that where he fits in the lineup may be the biggest stumbling block moving forward.  Senzel played only in the outfield last season (he had one appearance at 2B), though he has a history of playing 2B and 3B coming up through the minors.  That flexibility helps, but there’s no guarantee he finds consistent AB at any one spot even with a Universal DH.

Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suarez are going to start at 2B ad 3B, plus the team has a glut of options in the outfield:

  • Nick Castellanos
  • Shogo Akiyama
  • Jesse Winker
  • Phillip Ervin
  • Josh VanMeter
  • Scott Schebler
  • Aristedes Aquino

Senzel could emerge as a platoon partner for Akiyama or Winker, as there was an obvious split in the results last season:

  • vs. LHP – .316/.371/.526
  • vs. RHP – .236/.296/.393

He’d be on the unfavorable side of things, plus he’s shown significantly more in the past (in 2018 at Triple-A Senzel slashed .321/.389/.518 against right-handed pitchers).  Even last year, while he was showing modest results, the underlying numbers supported better production.  Just look at this excerpt from Rotoprofessor’s 2020 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:

He added 20 doubles and 4 triples while showing an exceptional willingness to use the entire field (31.3% Oppo%).  It was also clear that he had an idea at the plate, with his “worst” Whiff% being 14.29% against breaking balls.  Throw in a 40.4% Hard% there’s a good chance that his .319 BABIP rises, and if he takes even a small step forward in his power (13.3% HR/FB) to go along with some speed he could emerge as one of the better options assuming his production against RHP (.236) improves.

Senzel’s Exit Velocity (87.5 mph) and Launch Angle (11.0) were virtually league average, which could be viewed as a positive (at least not a negative).  By the time a 2020 season starts he will be 25-years old (his birthday is June 29) and there is obvious room for growth.  He showed everything we need to see and has a history of being far more than a platoon player.

The biggest question is his playing time, and while there’s competition Senzel should also have the opportunity to claim a full-time role as long as he’s hitting.  That makes him an intriguing option, especially as others may have lost some belief in his potential.  Considering his current average ADP of 219.05 in NFBC formats, he’s well worth the gamble.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Savant

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
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PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Professor,

    In a twelve-team dynasty league, which side do you dig more? DeGrom/Machado or Bieber/Bogaerts/Castellanos? Thanks again in advance.

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