Cincinnati Reds: 5 bold predictions for the 2021 season

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds after hitting a two-run home run. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 6
Next
Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds prepares for a spring training game.
GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – MARCH 03: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds prepares for a spring training game. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

2. Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson starts more games than Tucker Barnhart.

Heading into the 2021 season, Tyler Stephenson is sure to get plenty of playing time. But, the rookie will be behind Tucker Barnhart on the depth chart and will likely only get the start when a left-hander is on the mound. However, by the All-Star break, it’s quite possible that Stephenson will have shown himself to be a force in the Reds lineup and supplant Barnhart.

For fans of Tucker Barnhart, and there are plenty, this may be a bittersweet season to watch the Reds backstop. While the two-time Gold Glove Award-winner has certainly earned his standing on this team and in the hearts of the fans, defense alone will not be enough to keep Barnhart on the team moving forward.

Barnhart is an elite defensive catcher, but his bat has never been equal to his production behind the plate. For his career, Barnhart is a .248 hitter and usually occupies the bottom half of the batting order. Stephenson has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order force for the Reds this season and into the future.

Barnhart is under contract through the end of the upcoming season and has a $7M team option the following year. After watching Cincinnati part ways with Archie Bradley, Curt Casali, and Raisel Iglesias this past winter, it’s hard to envision Nick Krall and the front office hanging onto Barnhart for that price heading into 2022.

If Barnhart can elevate his play at the dish, he’ll keep his spot among the Reds’ regulars. However, if Stephenson lives up the lofty potential, it’s only a matter of time before the 24-year-old finds a spot in the heart of the Cincinnati lineup. It’s not a question of if Tyler Stephenson will replace Tucker Barnhart, but when?