Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards: Rookie of the Year

Jesse Winker of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Jesse Winker of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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As we continue to pass out the Cincinnati Reds 2018 season awards, we take a look today at Rookie of the Year. Without a doubt, Jesse Winker is the Cincinnati Reds’ 2018 Rookie of the Year.

As Blog Red Machine hands out team awards, writing about the Reds’ Rookie of the Year may be my easiest assignment yet. Not only was Jesse Winker the best rookie on the Cincinnati Reds, but before he had a season-ending injury, he was in the conversation for the National League Rookie of the Year.

Winker came out of the gate swinging for the Reds and showed the team that he belonged in the bigs. Batting leadoff on opening day, he went 0-4 with a walk. He quickly recovered and was batting .300 by the next week and led the Reds in batting average in the month of April.

Although he didn’t show much power, it showed up when it mattered. The Cincinnati Reds had a 4-3 record in games that Winker hit a home run. One of his most notable homers was a walk-off shot in the 13th inning against the Colorado Rockies back in June.

Jesse Winker had an interesting season with the Reds. Jim Riggleman announced May 30 that the four-man outfield rotation was over and Winker would be sent to the bench. His benching lasted about two days. Starting on June 1, he slashed .362/.465/.554 for the rest of the season.

Winker also made waves in the National media. Winker was the only 2018 rookie to have more walks (49) than strikeouts (46) and was the first rookie since 2007 to accomplish that. In an era defined by strikeouts, this is an impressive feat for any player, no matter how much experience they have.

Among all MLB rookies, Winker was second in average (.299) and on-base percentage (.405), and fifth in on-base plus slugging (.836). His OPS was higher than Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees, Brian Anderson of the Miami Marlins, and Christian Villanueva of the San Diego Padres. All three of whom are Rookie of the Year candidates in their respective leagues. For a player who isn’t known for power hitting, that’s pretty good.

Next. Five free agents who could help the Reds in 2019

Winker will surely be a player to watch in 2019. He’ll start his sophomore season well rested with a healed shoulder. If he played as well as he did this season while hurt, just imagine how great he can be when completely healthy. The club plans to move him to right field, where he made 47 appearances last year.