Before the season began, Stephenson was expected to share catching duties with Luke Maile and Curt Casali. The Reds did not want a repeat of the 2022 season that saw them turn to seven different backstops including Chris Okey and Mark Koloszvary.
But while the initial idea was to allow Stephenson to get reps at first base and DH, the Reds plans have changed since Casali has been on injured list. Stephenson has finally received regular playing time behind the dish and the results speak for themselves.
Tyler Stephenson's late-season roar solidifies status as Reds' starting catcher in 2024.
Heading into the 2023 season, no one really knew what to expect from Tyler Stephenson. But as the year comes to a close, it's apparent that the Reds 2015 first-round draft pick will be the team's starting catcher moving forward.
Curt Casali has been on the injured list for almost two months. Since July 21st, the Reds have been running with the catching duo of Stephenson and Luke Maile. During that stretch, Stephenson has started 25 of 35 games and is hitting .280/.337/.473 with nine extra-base hits and 12 RBI.
If Stephenson were to put up that type of production over an entire season, the 26-year-old would start 116 games and record 43 extra-base hits, including 19 home runs with 56 RBI. It feels safe to assume that every Reds fans would take that.
A hit-first catcher is a luxury, and yes Stephenson's defense needs some attention during the offseason. According to Fielding Bible, Stephenson's -7 defensive runs saved place him among the worst defensive catchers in the league.
But with both Curt Casali and Luke Maile entering free agency this offseason (Casali has a mutual-option for 2024), and very little depth in the farm system, Tyler Stephenson will be the Cincinnati Reds QB1 next season.