Reds report card: Grading Tyler Stephenson's discouraging 2023 season

Tyler Stephenson's 2023 season did not unfold as Reds fans expected it would.
Cincinnati Reds v New York Mets
Cincinnati Reds v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Discouraging, disappointing, mediocre - choose whatever word you'd prefer, but Reds fans know that the version of Tyler Stephenson who was on the field in 2023 is not the player everyone expected to see during his third year in the big leagues.

In Stephenson's defense, the Cincinnati Reds' backstop was returning from major offseason surgery after taking a foul ball off his collarbone in 2022.

Entering spring training, Reds manager David Bell appeared to have Stephenson's 2023 campaign scripted. The 27-year-old was to split time between between first base, catcher, and be the team's designated hitter so as to assure his health would not be in jeopardy this past season.

Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson' put up horrific numbers in 2023

The idea was sound, right? After seeing his QB1 get beaten to pulp in 2022 and land on the injured list three separate times, the plan made sense. The Cincinnati Reds brought tin Curt Casali and Luke Maile in an effort to help take some of the burden off Stephenson's shoulders.

But the experiment was a colossal failure. It was apparent after a handful of games that the idea of Stephenson becoming the heir apparent to Joey Votto at first base was not in the cards. Bell quickly shuffled Stephenson off the position and replaced him with Spencer Steer.

Then Stephenson became virtually unplayable. The former first-round pick seemed to lose all his power. Through the All-Star break, Stephenson slugged just .373 and posted a wRC+ of only 92 according to FanGraphs.

.243/.317/.378 13 HR 56 RBI. . Tyler Stephenson. Ty Steve grade. D-

After Elly De La Crz made his debut, Stephenson was bumped down in the batting order to No. 6 and eventually saw himself hitting eighth and even ninth on Bell's lineup card. While Stephenson hit just .229 during the month of September, his slugging percentage rebounded (.429), giving Reds Country a glimmer of hope.

Stephenson ended his 2023 season with terrible defensive stats as well. His pop time, framing, and throwing were all below average for a backstop according to Baseball Savant. Stephenson must improve in all phases of the game over the offseason.

Tyler Stephenson's lone saving grace is that he actually played in a career-best 142 games. That's a start, as injuries crippled his 2022 campaign. But Stephenson now needs to combine his reliability with that power and patience at the plate that he's displayed in the past.