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 outfielder TJ Friedl has exceeded expectations through the 1st 81 games of the 2023 season.

Had TJ Friedl not had two separate stints on the IL this season, we'd be talking about the outfielder as a potential All-Star. But, despite his limited action, Friedl currently leads the Cincinnati Reds in bWAR (2.4).

Friedl has become an indispensable piece of this Reds team. Cincinnati's leadoff hitter leads the team in on-base percentage and is second in batting average and OPS with Matt McLain at the head of the class.

Friedl prides himself on creating chaos, and can reach base via walk, bunt hit, or may just go yard. The 27-year-old has a slugging percentage near .500 and is hitting .360/.411/.660 with runners in scoring position.

TJ Friedl has found a home atop David Bell's lineup card against right-handed pitchers, but has also become a regular when facing southpaws. In fact, Friedl has posted numbers against lefties (.379/.419/.552) than he has against righties (.310/.383/.489).

Non-drafted in 2016, Friedl has turned himself into quite the major league player in only his second year in the bigs. In addition to his tremendous production at the plate, Friedl has played great defense. According to FanGraphs, Friedl is worth 3 defensive runs saved and 2 outs above average. He's the definition of a complete player.