The Cincinnati Reds lost Jesse Winker midway through the 2018 season. Have fans seen enough of Winker to make an assessment about his future?
After 89 games and 281 ABs in 2018, in addition to a few short stints with the Cincinnati Reds during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, have we seen enough of Jesse Winker to make an assessment? Before heading to the disabled list following season-ending right shoulder surgery, the 24-year-old had to be at least in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion.
When you take a look at Winker’s stats, no big numbers jump out at you immediately. However, what you do notice is a “mature” hitter at this stage in his career. His maturity was obvious by having more walks than strikeouts last season, a .299 batting average and .405 on-base percentage when his season was cut short.
Those numbers aren’t an anomaly for Winker either, but more so just him being himself. A glance through his numbers in the minors will show you similar stats at every stop along the way. Consistency and putting the ball in play are what fans have already come to expect.
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At the plate, Winker isn’t blasting 450 foot homers, swiping bases at a high rate, or taking big cuts at every off-speed pitch he gets. How often do you see the latter from rookies? He has a calm demeanor in the box that results in quality ABs, lots of contact, and getting on base. Such evidence and numbers support the reason he drew a lot of at-bats in the leadoff spot early in the season.
As the season went on, despite struggles at the top of the lineup and the Cincinnati Reds’ experiments with various lineups, Winker settled in the 6th spot in the batting order and continued his approach at the plate while delivering some timely hitting in RBI situations.
In the field, Winker was a serviceable right fielder and makes the routine plays you would expect of any Major Leaguer. As with the assessment of Winker at the plate, you won’t see a lot of flashy plays, chasing down balls in the gap or Puiq-esque cannon throws from the warning track to home plate. He can also pick up a few DH at-bats during interleague play.
With multiple young outfielders, offseason veteran acquisitions, and other players looking at moving to the outfield, the Cincinnati Reds currently have a crowded outfield. While more moves are expected to be made which can impact the numbers, where does Winker fit in? On a roster full of players figuring out who they are or finding their way with a new team, having a steady guy like Winker can prove valuable on any roster.
Once he is 100% healthy, Jesse Winker could increase his presence in the lineup by adding a bit of power. His numbers haven’t shown that, but at his size, as he ages into his prime, one would expect those home run and RBI numbers to rise. Additionally, continuing to improve his glove will ensure that he makes it difficult on a new Reds coaching staff to keep him out of the lineup.