Where has Tyler Stephenson's power gone in 2023?

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson.
Cincinnati Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds entered the 2023 season knowing that if they were going to win games, it wasn't coming via the long ball. The Reds lineup is lacking power bats.

But while the Reds lineup in no way was going to mimic what the San Diego Padres are sending out on a nightly basis, it was assumed that at least a few hitters would be blasting some balls into the seat at Great American Ball Park.

One such player is Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson. The 26-year-old has reached base a nice clip during the first couple weeks of the season, but Stephenson is not hitting for power. What gives?

Where has Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson's power gone in 2023?

To be fair, it's very early in the season and Tyler Stephenson is returning from an injury-plagued 2022 campaign that saw him play in just 50 games. But Stephenson's slugging percentage is sitting at just .333 and only two of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases.

During his first two-plus seasons in the big leagues, Stephenson slashed .296/.369/.454 with 30 doubles and 18 home runs. This season, Stephenson is hitting .292/.382/.333 with two doubles and zero homers.

According to Baseball Savant, Stephenson's barrel-rate is down from 6.6-percent in 2022 to 2.9-percent in 2023. His hard-hit rate and average exit velocity, however, are both up from a year ago.

Reds manager David Bell is still working through how he wants to set his lineup, but perhaps moving Stephenson up to the No. 2 spot in the batting order would be a wise move. Even batting him third between the left-handed hitting duo of TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley might be a step in the right direction.

Stephenson's best tool is his patience at the plate and ability to draw walks. He also works the count and looks for a pitch that he can typically drive the opposite way. Allowing Jonathan India and TJ Friedl to set the table, followed by the bats of Stephenson, Fraley, and then Spencer Steer might greatly increase the run production for the Cincinnati Reds.

There's still plenty of time for Tyler Stephenson to regain his power stroke, but expecting more than 20 home runs in a season from the Reds backstop might be a bit of stretch. If Stephenson's approach in 2023 is going to lead to a higher batting average but less power, then David Bell needs to shuffle the lineup a bit.

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