Jesse Winker is a former number-one prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Now, he’s the everyday Left Fielder. Since the start of 2020, Winker has been one of the best hitters in all of baseball. His ability to get on base and hit for power has evolved nicely for not only him, but his team. He now commands the leadoff role for the offense, and it’s showing that he’s going to be a fixture that could potentially reap huge rewards for the Redlegs.
Since he was called up to The Show, it has been no secret that Jesse Winker has battled some injuries. In 2018, he was starting to catch on when he suffered a shoulder injury that practically sapped all momentum for him, and in 2019, he also dealt with some small, nagging issues. When he has been on the field though, he has been a very valuable hitter for the Cincinnati Reds. He started 2020 with a bad slump, a product of multiple shifts taking hits away from him even if it was a hard-hit baseball. After that slump ended, Winker showed why he will be a main cog in the lineup.
After a slow start in July, when the shortened season started, things clicked for Winker. Through the month of August, he put up a .369/.459/.798 slash line with a 1.257 OPS and 10 home runs. So far this season, this is the Jesse Winker we have been seeing. He currently sits in the top five in batting average (.382), top five in slugging (.691) and top 10 in OBP (.432), amongst qualified batters. We’re starting to see the breakout of potentially the best hitter in the Reds organization since Joey Votto arrived.
David Bell bats Jesse Winker in the leadoff spot. This may seem unconventional because Winker is not the speediest guy on the field, not by a long shot. What it does provide though is not only a solid hitter with the necessary power but a guy who has elite plate discipline. Since he was in the minors, Wink has always shown that he can get on base, whether it be by hits or free passes. Since he arrived in the majors, he holds a .445 OBP. The guy finds a way to get on base at an elite level. In 2020, his strikeouts did increase, but so did his power numbers. He was tops in National League in Barrel Rate (13.5%), and through his first 17 games this year, he holds a 19.2% barrel rate, which is utterly fantastic.
This has given David Bell the opportunity to put Winker in front of Nicholas Castellanos and Votto. When Winker gets on base, he scores. So far this season, he has scored 14 runs, eight of them have been after he led off the game. With such a valuable guy at the top of the lineup, he also sees better pitches. This means Winker has the chance for many extra-base hits. Because of him excelling in the leadoff spot, his wOBA sits at an eye-popping .376.
Can The Train Keep Rolling?
Jesse Winker has been the most consistent hitter in the lineup this year. Sans his missed time because of the flu, this team has exceeded expectations with him leading the charge. All signs point to a fantastic year for him, and possibly a contract extension at the conclusion of this season. With Winker leading the offense, they have a realistic shot at success. No, he may not run like Billy Hamilton, but he does something Hamilton did not, he gets on base consistently. With his evolving skillset and plate discipline, Winker will likely be a mainstay at the top of the order. Most of all, he looks most comfortable there. If you don’t believe what you’re reading, check out the tweet from Jared Carrabis below.
Since the start of last season, here’s the list of qualified players who have a .990 OPS or better: Juan Soto, Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman, Nelson Cruz, Bryce Harper…..Jesse Winker. pic.twitter.com/YZocMCDlsq
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) April 27, 2021
That is very good company that Winker is in. This shows that he’s not just an on-base guy, but he can hit for power as well and be dangerous in doing so.
Jesse Winker will only continue to get better as the season goes on. While he might not hit .380 all season, all signs point to a guy that will finish with an average over .300 and an on-base percentage near the .400 mark. Not bad for someone who was told he was too slow, and not a good enough defender to play every single day. You can catch Jesse Winker leading the Reds offense off every night, and you might just catch him leading the charge for this team into October. So, the answer is unequivocally yes, that Jesse Winker has arrived, and he’s here to stay.
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