Tyler Stephenson has helped the Reds offense catch fire.
Let's talk about catcher Tyler Stephenson. Even though Jonathan India is the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, I'm not convinced he's the Cincinnati Reds' best player in his sophomore season.
A 2015 first-round selection, Stephenson is off to a phenomenal start at the dish as well as behind it. Despite missing time on the IL with a concussion, the right-handed-hitting slugger is slashing a remarkable .322/.397/.559 with three homers and 17 RBIs.
It's a small sample size, only 14 at-bats, but Stephenson has feasted on left-hand pitching this year. Slashing .357/.474/.571 with a ridiculous 1.045 OPS, the Georgia native is sending a strong message that southpaws are pitching to him at their own risk.
Even though his greatest strength is his offense, Stephenson's improvement behind the plate has been significant. In 2022, he's already thrown out five base runners who've attempted to swipe a bag, which is just three less than his 2021 total.
In addition, his current 29% caught stealing rate is slightly above the 27% league average. If his defense ever catches up to his offense, he'll easily be the Cincinnati Reds best backstop since Hall of Famer Johnny Bench.
Prediction: Reds vs. Pirates
It's not often we get a chance to say it, but both the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates are playing good baseball this week. However, one team will reign superior in this four-game showdown.
Look for the Reds to take three of four in the Steel City before they travel north to Cleveland to battle the Guardians in the conclusion of the 2022 Ohio Cup series.