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 infielder Matt McLain has exceeded expectations through the 1st 81 games of the 2023 season.

Okay, this last one could have come down to any number of Reds players who've impressed through the first 81 games of the 2023 season. Will Benson, Andrew Abbott, and Spencer Steer could all occupy this spot. But what Matt McLain has done during his first 40 games in the bigs is nothing short of impressive.

Though Elly De La Cruz gets the headlines, it's been McLain who's getting it done on the field. That's not a shot at De La Cruz himself, but rather the lack of attention that McLain has received from the many pundits and so-called experts outside of Cincinnati.

Aside from likely National League Rookie of the Year and potential NL MVP Corbin Carroll, Matt McLain has been the best rookie performer in baseball this season. McLain is hitting .316/.371/.538 and has only been up in the bigs since mid-May.

McLain has also flashed the leather on multiple occasions with 3 defensive runs saved and 2 outs above average according to FanGraphs. McLain leads the Cincinnati Reds in wRC+ (139) and is second to only TJ Friedl (2.5) in fWAR (1.7).

Matt McLain is locked into the No. 2 hole in the Reds batting order, and that seems like a position that he may well hold for quite some time. With six home runs through just six weeks worth of games, it's not out of the realm of possibilities for McLain to eclipse 20 round trippers by the end of the season.

Next. Starters to target in trade. 2 starters the Reds should trade for, 2 they shouldn't. dark