Cincinnati Reds: Three players who’ve excelled in expanded roles

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a home run
CINCINNATI, OHIO – AUGUST 14: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a home run (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

2. Jesse Winker, Reds outfielder

Okay, be honest, you didn’t expect Jesse Winker to be the Reds best hitter this season, right? Of course not. Throughout his career, Winker has shown a good eye at the plate, but has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. So much so that David Bell platooned Winker with Phillip Ervin last season. Ervin is now gone and Winker is absolutely on fire.

There’s not a hotter hitter in baseball than Jesse Winker. Over his last 15 games, the Reds left fielder is hitting .396/.491/.979 with eight home runs and 12 RBIs. Fernando Tatis Jr., the darling of the baseball world right now, is hitting .283/.368/.567 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games. Winker’s OPS during that time (1.470) is 535 points higher than Tatis Jr.’s (.935).

One thing that has helped Winker this season is the implementation of a universal designated hitter. Now I know that many throughout Reds Country, myself included, were hesitant to accept the DH in the National League, but without its addition, it’s quit possible that we would not have seen Winker blossom into the hitter we see today.

With the crowded outfield entering summer camp, Winker was unlikely to beat out the likes of Shogo Akiyama or Nick Castellanos for a regular spot in the lineup. Heck, last year, he struggled to beat out Ervin. But now, Jesse Winker has supplanted Eugenio Suárez and Joey Votto as the team’s No. 3 hitter in the lineup.