If you have browsed the comments section here at Redleg Nation you have undoubtedly seen some opinions on Nick Senzel over the years. Right now, though, most of those opinions have been silenced as Senzel has gone on what’s probably the best run of his career over the last week.
Perhaps some of this began last season. Late in the year, Nick Senzel made some changes with his swing. While the results in terms of hits didn’t show up right away, before he wound up on the injured list and his season came to an end early, he had begun to hit the ball harder than he had done all season.
This year, his average exit velocity is actually down. But we also know that average exit velocity is less important than the average exit velocity of your top 20% or so of batted balls. Every player is going to run into their share of mishits and weak contact that’s going to drop their average exit velocity some – what matters is what you are doing when making solid contact (though how often you make solid contact matters). While the average exit velocity is down, Senzel’s barrel rate is up. His hard hit rate is up. His launch angle is also up.
The increase in launch angle may be the key figure here because despite some increases in hard hit rate and barrel rate, he’s still below0average in those. But his expected batting average and expected slugging are both well above-average. Getting the ball in the air a little more may be the difference between a ground out and a ball landing over an infielder and in the outfield grass.
But beyond just the batted ball stuff, Senzel’s also walking at the highest rate of his career – 10.8%. His strikeout rate is also currently the second lowest of his career – 16.9%. In today’s game, a 16.9% strikeout rate is well above-average when it comes to making contact. The walk rate is also better than average.
Looking at his plate discipline stats at Fangraphs, Senzel’s chasing pitches out of the zone less than ever according to Pitch Info. He’s swinging a little more on pitches in the zone than he has for his career, but that difference is quite minimal. Interestingly, he is making less contact on pitches in the zone when he does swing at them than ever before, but he’s also making more contact on pitches out of the zone when he swings at them than ever before.
When it comes to the success he’s having at the plate it doesn’t appear that there’s one thing that has been the leading factor, but more that it’s a lot of little things all coming together. More contact, being more selective, getting the ball in the air a little bit more, the frequency in which he’s hitting the ball a little bit harder.
Alex Young and the home run
September 7th, 2021. That was the last time that Alex Young had given up a home run. He was pitching for Cleveland that night and allowed a home run to Brent Rooker, who may be the best hitter in baseball at this moment. The left-handed reliever would face 182 batters before giving up another home run. Unfortunately for the Reds and for Young, it was the most inopportune time for one as Ha-Seong Kim’s 3-run homer broke a tie in the 5th inning of last night’s game and the Padres never looked back as they went on to win 8-3 and grab the first game of the series.
The runs charged to Young were the first runs he’d given up since April 11th. It was only the second game in which he was charged with any earned runs. It was also only the second game this season in which he had allowed any inherited runners to score. The lefty’s ERA jumped up to 2.03 after last night.
thank you Doug. Senzel is the feel good story of the year so far. Now if we can only get Joey back out there than this season would be a huge success in my opinion
Given all of his odd and significant injuries over the course of his early career, I find myself rooting very hard for Senzel to succeed and remain healthy this season.
Perhaps the moral here is that health matters a lot more in today’s game than in prior eras, and more than many may realize. Perhaps another point is considering how this may involve Barrero, Stephenson, and Votto, among others.
In an entirely unrelated matter, there was a posting of each MLB clubs’ MiLB aggregate record for April. Reds not doing well at all.
RE that last point…. no one is shocked. While you can sit here and make a solid argument that the organization missed out on a lot of games from top prospects in April due to injury, the Reds farm system has had a winning record one time in the last 10 seasons (not 10 years because there was no season in 2020). That season came in 2021 when they went 301-295. Back in 2011 they finished 5 games over .500. Before that you have to go back to 2006 to find another winning record for the farm system when they went 424-399.
At what point do the Reds leave Senzel at 3B and Friedl in CF for an extended period of time? Use Steer at 1B except when Stephenson doesn’t catch or DH.
This is a seemingly a season for sorting what the Reds have and determining their “shopping list” for this winter, so it would be helpful to see players left at one position day after day.
If Senzel continues to produce and stay healthy do you see a scenario where the Reds trade him to improve the starting pitching and or outfield depth?
For instance, I think that exploring a trade with Washington that included Senzel and one of the SS prospects (not De La Cruz/but maybe Marte) for either one of their top 3 outfield prospects (Wood, Hassell, Green) and or one of their top two pitching prospects (Cavalli or Susana) would be a good option for both teams
What say you?
I say as long as he continues to hit, he needs to play every day and be moved up considerably in the batting order. My sense is that third base is his best position, and that he should be kept there as long as he shows that he is at least average defensively. He still has three years of team control, and — again, if he continues to hit — trading him would be idiotic, IMO. I think many here assume that McLain, CES and de la Cruz are ALL going to become dynamic everyday players and hitters. There is absolutely no guarantee of that, although we all hope it will happen. IMO, you don’t move someone who is performing well at the major league level to make room or favor for someone who has never done so. If it’s me in charge, I continue to watch Barrero swing at pitches way out of the zone and say, hey, I’m getting McLain and his bat up here for a look, and moving Barrero into the jack-of-all-trades role that Senzel was expected to fill.
de la Cruz has the longest swing I can recall ever seeing. At this point, IMO CES and McClain have a better chance of success. de la Cruz has me worried we could be looking another Aquino…
He’s not just hitting, but he is playing excellent defense at third.
Pete, I am not sure what you are looking at. Swing length is typically thought of as the arc from the start of the swing to contact, at which EDLC is outstandingly short. He can have a long follow-through, but the follow-through is irrelevant — the ball has already been hit.
Watch this video of his 2022 highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDHFIkkRbFQ. His follow-through is long when he really cranks one, but when a hitter that tall generates that kind of bat speed, he needs a long follow through to slow the bat down safely. You will note that his home runs to LF as a LH hitter are more controlled swings that do not have such a long follow-through, as opposed to the pulled homers that he has destroyed. Those oppo-tacos make it easier to see just how quick his hands are and how short he is to the ball.
Complaining about EDLC’s swing is like complaining about going home to Ingrid Bergman in her her prime.
Barrero has a long swing, and that is his main problem. They’ve tried a few things to shorten it, and it will be an ongoing thing with him. Chris Welsh pointed out the other day, Barrero in his set up has started pointing the barrel of the bat at the pitcher, which gives him a longer path to the ball — exactly the opposite of what he needs. Barrero’s ability to hit will rest entirely on his ability to shorten his path to the ball, because he has everything else.
“de la Cruz has the longest swing I can recall ever seeing.”
At first glance without analyzing one could say that Ken Griffey Jr. had a long swing. Looks are deceiving some times.
Thanks for the excellent analysis, OBE.
Doubt if Washington would do that deal anyway. Senzel is under team control for two more years I believe (through the 2025 season). Washington isn’t going to be contending anytime soon, especially in the same division as the Braves, Mets, and Phillies, and won’t need him before he hits free agency.
He certainly deserved the award and put a big, fat exclamation point on it last night!
I’m with Tom–time to move up Senzel in the batting order. Here’s the lineup I would love to see on Friday night at GABP (yes, it involves a couple of call-ups on Thursday):
Fraley RF (or Ramos–play the hot hand)
If Senzel can stay healthy is the biggest question. History hasn’t been kind. Has he finally purged the morass engendered by Turner in 2019. We can only hope. I’m still not convinced that trading him may not be the better move. Staying healthy seems like too much to hope for. As for EDLC looking like AA? Eric the Red says otherwise.
Keeping Senzel out of CF is a key to keeping him healthy.
I know there are folks that will go to the mat about that here, but risk management is part of the game the Reds are playing with Stephenson, along with all the pitch counts and day to day management of the bullpen.
No more diving for uncatchable balls or inflexible walls.
Play Friedl or Fairbanks in CF.
But of course, with Bell as manager, any logical decision making goes out the window. It’s all about him ‘managing’ by juggling lineups and positions.
All that said, Senzel’s, swing has been looking very smooth and very good during his recent upswing. I hope that continues.
Of course, Bell could be sitting him at any moment.
Throwing no shade on EDLC…but I wonder if some of his rapid rise through A and AA was predicated on him just being a whole lot better than others at that level. AAA pitching is going to offer significant other challenges that will take his adjustment.
Comparisons between DLC and AA are way off base. The man has spent, what, three weeks in AAA ball?
I’d rather the Reds let him take his time and get McLain and CES up first to try and figure out where they are going to play those guys.
It’s going to mean Reynolds and Newman and maybe even Myers are going to get sidetracked.
And with Bell, none of that is going to happen.
An obvious big difference between AA and EDLC is speed. Elly is going to hit a lot of routine ground balls that end up as infield singles. He has the potential to steal 60-80 bases. Both strike out a ton and both have huge arms. ELDC will have to master hitting the off speed stuff that AA never could. So far he has 19 K’s in 41 AB’s and that is way too high to be serious contender for an immediate call
up to Cincy.
I have always pulled for Senzel and am glad he’s doing well. But with his injury history, I would follow the old saying of selling high. Get the best deal possible for pitching and /or the outfield.
Well he might very well be trade bait at the deadline or in the off-season but definitely not on May 2nd. As much as we want Newman and gone, I can’t see any trades going down in May.
Newman and Myers.
I don’t get the trade Senzel thinking, his value is about as low as it has ever been. Lets just hope he keeps playing well and we get to benefit from a nice surprise over the next few years.
Trading him makes perfect sense as long as we can get the other team to ignore his injury history and evaluate him solely on his last eight days in the majors and perhaps his NCAA time.
IF, and that’s a BIG IF, other teams would value Senzel highly I’d trade him given his injury history. The reality is though the best thing the Reds can do is just ride out his hot streak and see what they can get out of him. It would seem that would be the best way to get the most value and wisest way to go.
I do t want to jinx him, but is there a quick review of the various maladies he’s suffered, and are any of them chronic or weakening? So many have been flukish, so if they keep him at 3b and healthy he perform as expected years ago.
Newman starting yet again today. Bell’s love affair with mediocrity continues
Isn’t is…..AMAZING? And while I have no problem with Stuart Fairchild playing, would you bat him fourth, with the team’s hottest hitter batting sixth?
The only thing that I can figger is that the organization has already made up its collective mind on Barrero, or else….Bell is told to play Newman to get up his trade value to somebody that needs a Short stop. Hmmmmm…….
And Stephenson is sitting down today. He’s been in a slump, so really, no harm there. Maybe he’s tarred. (tired)
It’s a weird line-up, and David Bell wrote it up that way. Flip-flop Fairchild and Senzel, and it would be ok. At least Senzel is playing third and not CF.
I don’t think Krall has as much day to day impact on Bell as some here think. No one has the data on Barrero to decide he’s not the SS. It’s Bell’s usual pattern and has persisted through Williams and Krall both
Tonight’s lineup shows the real hole in the middle of the Reds’ batting and the reason to get CES up soon.
They need someone with some serious punch in the middle of the lineup.
Stephenson isn’t that guy.
He’s a competent hitter, likely still getting back to 100% after the injury.
You could also imagine some kind of strange Ouija board mantra floating around inside Bell’s head: “Cleanup does matter….”
That said, I’m glad that Senzel is staying put where he is in the lineup.
No sense adding any more pressure on the guy. Let him continue to refine his stroke and build success before rushing him into plugging some hole in the lineup.
Besides, Bell has shown his genius batting Newman at #4. Let him go with that.
Abbott 5 shutout innings 8 k’
Ces and mClain 2 hits
Errors from mcLain and edlc
Nice games by Benson (2-5, HR) and Robinson (2-5), too.
Benson has been getting hits, and walks recently. It would be nice to see him get going in AAA. He’s got a bunch of talent.
Robinson has been so good, it’s going to get tough on Krall not to promote him.
“Robinson has been so good, it’s going to get tough on Krall not to promote him.”
If we’re staying with three catchers maybe Casali can give up his playing days and wear the Interim Manager hat. 🙂
Why would you want Curt Casali named as interim manager?
We really need to get past this idea of hiring a manager with zero experience and no history of success.
The Reds have found success when they have hired winning managers. Lou Pinella, Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker being prime examples.
How about ANYONE for interim manager. The key word is interim. I get your point. Sounds fine to me. 🙂
If Siani doesn’t start hitting he could be in danger eventually of losing his roster spot. Benson getting two hits is good but he’s still been pretty bad. The same for him.
I would swap out Siani and put CES on the 40 man. And when Myers comes back and Reynolds (should) go back to AAA, take him off the 40 man and put McClain on in his place.
There, problem solved.
And I would like to see TJ Hopkins on the 40 man, but there are no revelations at the moment about that, And Chuck Robinson, too..
Andrew Abbott is not on the 40 man either. I would take Hunter Strickland, Mr Wonder Pitcher, off the 40 man and install Andrew Abbott on the 40 man.
This isn’t hard, but just somebody has to make decisions.
“This isn’t hard, but just somebody has to make decisions.”
Lots have to be made.
@David, Strickland is not on the 40-man roster.
A few more starts and it could be time for Abbott to come up. That could actually give the Red’s a very young solid four for a few years. With CES, Mclain, EDLC and others along the way things are actually looking better. Not to be labor the point but for the team to ever reach their potential they really need to find the right manager and it’s not David Bell. There lies the rub for this year, I root for them to win every night but in the back of my mind I think that the worst thing that could happen would be winning enough to bring Bell back. My guess is that it might only take 70 to 75 wins for that to happen, maybe less. My personal feeling is that if they don’t win 80 it should be time for a change but, I am sure it will take a lot less.
If he has 3 more solid starts at AAA, that should be plenty of time for the other shoe to drop, if it doesn’t drop then we could desperately use him up on the Reds. They do seem to be slightly limiting his innings, and pitch count. I wonder how much he can shoulder this season.
“Shoulder this season”…. I saw what you did there. 😉
I hope Senzel keeps playing well and stays healthy. He is a good story. Bell should play him regularly. On another note, it is interesting that De La Cruz has a little slump and some express doubt about him. Wow! De La Cruz will be one of the best ball players the Reds ever had. He will adjust to AAA soon enough. I am more impressed with De La Cruz than any player in the Reds organization. Greene is a close second with his ceiling potential of superstar.
I really dont see the Reds FO doing a lot of anything anytime soon.Myers is coming back at some point soon I would think and will play every day. Votto is out till probably June and hes taking a spot when he does.
Bullpen has mostly been better and kudos to them. But, the Sp4/SP5 issue wont change this month anyway but at least there is legitimate hope that Abbott might be coming in June-ish if he keeps it up for another 4-5 starts. The 3 catcher thing is going to rerun itself well in the summer and Newman isnt going anywhere.
Injuries always happen as they have of late with Cruz and Myers so I am sure several folks in May will end up with soft tissue injuries and hit the IL, giving opportunities to others.
I dont want McLain up here unless hes playing mostly every day in the IF. Senzel is playing his best ball in 5 years. Maybe Fraley and Friedl can inject some life into the offense with the righty pitching. Hope Steer, India, and Ty Steve find it again.
I may be pessimistic, but I don’t expect McLain, EDLC, CES and company to significantly contribute to the major league team until 2025 at the earliest.
If ownership is truly committed to a plan, they will start signing extensions and adding a few veterans to the team this winter. They need at least one solid starter and a middle of the line up bat.
The Hunter Greene extension gives me hope they might do the right thing, but I also have my doubts.
I just read an article by Ben Weinrib. He said that De La Cruz is the second youngest AAA player and six years younger than the leagues average age.
Interesting statistic, but a lot of AAA teams are stashed with older players who are there to be ready to help the Major League affiliate. So yeah, a lot of AAA teams have older players that are on the margin of the Majors, such as Chase Anderson (35) with the Riverbats.
I think that EDLC is an amazing talent, but he has to prove himself at AAA level. Which means more about adjusting to the game than proving he has a lot of baseball talent. The Reds know he has a ton of raw talent.
Senzel is still an amazing story to me. It’s like something just clicked and his all around game went up at least two levels.
I remember when it looked like Jeff Keppinger might be in the running for a battle title then reality hit. Let’s see what happens with Nick. I’d atleast bat him 3rd while he’s hitting .500.
Enquirer has an article up on him. It sounds like maturity and mental toughness and a mental reset set the stage as well as a swing reset and his plate discipline has always been elite. I Cleted early last night but saw his play at 3b against Bogarts today. For those who havent seen it,,,,please do so. He looks good defensively and this infield defense doesnt.