Reds: 3 players on pace to make their first All-Star Game

CINCINNATI, OHIO - APRIL 17: Jesse Winker #33 and Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate in the ninth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - APRIL 17: Jesse Winker #33 and Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrate in the ninth inning. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Alex Blandino.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 26: Jesse Winker #33 of the Cincinnati Reds celebrates with Alex Blandino. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Reds have their share of ups and downs through the first six weeks of the 2021 season. While Luis Castillo looks a pitcher who should be shipped to Triple-A, several other Reds players have exceeded expectations thus far, and a select few could find their way to their first All-Star Game in July.

The Reds are not without their fair share of All-Star Game veterans. Joey Votto has been to the Midsummer Classic six times. Sonny Gray is a two-time participant in the event. The aforementioned Castillo made it in 2019, as did Eugenio Suarez. Mike Moustakas has three All-Star appearances on his resumé, and even Wade Miley went to the All-Star Game back in 2012.

But, the 2021 season has seen some talented players finally get their just-due, as their emergence has caught the eye of pundits and fans alike. Which three Reds players are most likely to earn their first trip to the All-Star Game?

1. Jesse Winker, Reds outfielder

If you don’t know about Jesse Winker by now, you haven’t been paying attention. The 27-year-old, who occupied the DH spot for the majority of the 60-game season in 2020, has taken his rightful place among some of the elite hitters in Major League Baseball.

Winker is currently leading the National League in batting average (.350), third in OPS (1.016) and slugging percentage (.613), and fourth in on-base percentage (.403). These numbers put him among some of the best hitters in the league. Names like Ronald Acūna Jr., Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado.

If the Reds, as a team, are able to capitalize on the success of Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos, both could enter the MVP conversation. Winker’s defense is often criticized, but the former first-round pick has worked tirelessly to improve that part of his game, and while he’s not turned into an elite defender, he’s certainly not a liability in left field either.

Jesse Winker’s walk-rate (7.5%) is down tremendously from last season (15.3%) according to FanGraphs, but his strikeout-rate (20.8%) is down as well. Winker is seeing career-highs in almost every single offensive category, and it’s hard to find an outfielder more deserving of a trip to Denver in July.