3 Reds players who exceeded expectations through the first 81 games of 2023 and 2 who fell short

The Cincinnati Reds, through the first 81 games of the 2023 season, are in first place in the NL Central.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder TJ Friedl (29) dives into third base.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder TJ Friedl (29) dives into third base. / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson has fallen short of expectations through the 1st 81 games of the 2023 season.

Now onto one of the biggest disappointments of the 2023 season. Sadly, Tyler Stephenson just hasn't produced at the plate this season. While the Cincinnati Reds catcher hasn't missed a game due to injury, he's hitting just .254/.328/.359.

It's that third number that is very troubling. While one could make the argument that Stephenson's batting average and on-base percentage should be higher as well, it's his lack of power that has been the biggest sticking point this season.

The Reds came into the 2023 season with three backstops in order to get Stephenson's bat into the lineup on a regular basis while rotating him between catcher, first base, and DH. The experiment at first base is over, and his time behind the plate has seen a sharp decrease as well.

Tyler Stephenson has started just 31 games behind the dish in 2023 while acting as the designated hitter 35 times. Worse yet, when he is behind the plate, Stephenson's defensive metrics (-5 DRS according to FanGraphs) suggest he's been the Reds worst catcher this season.

To be fair, Tyler Stephenson is returning from major surgery that he underwent in 2022, and it may take some time before he fully returns to the player Reds Country is used to seeing on the diamond. Hopefully that occurs over the second-half of the 2023 season.