4 biggest X-factors heading into the Reds 2023 season

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Graham Ashcraft / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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4. Reds biggest X-factors in 2023: Jose Barrero, shortstop

The biggest X-factor on the Cincinnati Reds in 2023 is Jose Barrero and there isn't really a close second. There are no more excuses, Barrero has got to perform during the upcoming season or the Reds are going to be forced to make a move.

Let's set aside the argument that the Res screwed up Barrero's development. While there is certainly merit to that argument, it's irrelevant at this stage of Barrero's career. Kyle Farmer is gone. Yes, the Reds brought in Kevin Newman, but if Barrero plays up to his potential, Cincinnati is not going to play a shortstop with a career OPS of .660 over one of their most highly-skilled young players.

Look for Barrero to be the Reds Opening Day shortstop. And when a lefty is on the bump, fans may well see Barrero getting some reps in center field while Newman holds down the fort at shortstop.

But Barrero's status as an X-factor on this squad has nothing to do with his defense. One could make the argument that his glove and arm are the best on the team. No, this is about how the offseason swing adjustments translate to the regular season.

Did Jose Barrero and new new Reds hitting coach Joel McKeithan do enough during the winter to make the infielder into a capable major league hitter. Cincinnati does not need Barrero to crush 25 homers and post a .525 slugging percentage; though that would be nice. More than anything else, Barrero cannot go down swinging at that same 40-percent clip that he did in 2022.

Barrero has company, and he knows it. Elly De La Cruz and Matt McLain are on the cusp of making it to The Show in 2023. If Barrero wants to keep his starting job, he's going to have to earn it. If we hit the All-Star break and Barrero is still the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, then the fanbase should be doing cartwheels. If not, it's time to embrace the youth movement.

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