Catcher Tyler Stephenson leads the Reds in home runs
Didn't see that one coming, did you? In all seriousness, this is quite bold. While Great American Ball Park can make light-hitting players look like perennial All-Stars, Tyler Stephenson might be No. 8 or 9 on the list of Reds players who you'd expect to lead the team in home runs next season.
But Stephenson is primed for a bounce-back season. He'll be over a year removed from the broken clavicle he suffered in 2022, and will not have to compete with two other catchers for playing time. Nick Krall has taken the kid gloves off, and is handing Stephenson the keys to be the Reds everyday catcher.
After injuries reduced his playing time to just 50 games in 2022, the Reds adjusted Stephenson's role last season. But it became apparent rather quickly that first base was not Stephenson's forte. However, the Reds remained steadfast in their commitment to keep him from squatting behind the plate every day, and alternated Stephenson between catcher and DH.
But with the Reds showing Curt Casali the door, Stephenson will only be competing with Luke Maile for playing time next season. Now healthy, with a regular spot in the lineup, look for Stephenson to start 110-plus games in 2024.
Stephenson's OPS during his first two seasons was sitting at .823. Last year, that number dropped to .696. The 2024 season is a prove-it year for the 27-year-old. While Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and Noelvi Marte all have arguably more power than Stephenson, look for a bounce-back year for the Reds' backstop in 2024.