Reds: Jesse Winker is the unquestioned frontrunner for NL MVP

Cincinnati Reds left fielder Jesse Winker (33) steps out of the dugout for a curtain call after hitting his third home run.
Cincinnati Reds left fielder Jesse Winker (33) steps out of the dugout for a curtain call after hitting his third home run. /

We’re about one-quarter through the 2021 season, and the best player in the National League resides in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse. Jesse Winker put on a show for the hometown last night, and the Cincinnati faithful responded.

After bashing his third home run of the evening, Winker stepped atop the Cincinnati dugout for a curtain call and heard chants of M-V-P. The Reds fans know what they’re talking about; if the NL MVP vote was held today, Jesse Winker should be the lead vote-getter.

Through 40-plus games, Reds outfielder Jesse Winker is the NL MVP.

Jesse Winker was a one-man show last night. After suffering through four consecutive losses, the Cincinnati Reds picked themselves off the mat and got a W versus the Milwaukee Brewers by a final score of 9-4. Winker played a huge role in last night’s victory, something that fans have seen all season.

Winker’s 4-for-4 night was highlighted by a blast in the eighth inning that cleared the wall in right-center field; it was his third home run of the night and his 11th on the season. Winker is white-hot and no one else in baseball is even comparable to him at this moment.

Winker leads the league in batting average, slugging percentage, and OPS. His .416 on-base percentage is good enough for third in the NL, trailing only Max Muncy and Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Winker has 10 doubles on the season, and his 11 round trippers rank third in the National League. He trails only the Atlanta Braves’ one-two punch of Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acūna Jr. Winker’s teammate, Nick Castellanos, also has 11 homers on the season. Winker’s 26 RBIs are good enough for 15th in the NL, but let’s not forget that he’s the Reds leadoff batter.

No one in the NL can match what Jesse Winker is doing right now.

Jesse Winker is the early-season leader in the race for the National League Most Valuable Player, and to be honest, it’s not even close. Only Nick Castellanos has the best argument to supplant Winker as the frontrunner, but the Cincinnati Reds right fielder trails Winker in every meaningful category.

You can throw out names like Freeman, Acūna, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado, but all of them are well off the pace being set by Winker. The only thing going against the 27-year-old is his team’s success. The Reds are currently 20-23 and trail the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals by 4.5 games.

Despite being decimated by injuries to some of the Reds core players, Winker continues to mash at the plate. In his last seven games, the Cincinnati left fielder is 8-for-25 with four home runs, and even more importantly, only four punch outs. Da Wink has five RBIs during that span as well and an 1.193 OPS.

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Once Nick Senzel returns the lineup, David Bell will have a reliable leadoff hitter he can put in the batting order ahead of Jesse Winker. If Cincinnati can figure out how to get more runners on base ahead of Winker, his numbers may look even better by midseason.