Former Reds slugger enjoying unexpected resurgence with the Nationals

What's gotten into Jesse Winker?
Washington Nationals outfielder Jesse Winker (6) hits
Washington Nationals outfielder Jesse Winker (6) hits / Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Winker's time in Cincinnati came to an abrupt end after Major League Baseball and the Player's Association came to new collective bargaining agreement during the spring of 2022. After a prolonged lockout delayed all offseason transactions, Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall wasted little time tearing down a roster that won 83 games in 2021.

The Reds traded Sonny Gray to the Minnesota Twins, shipped Amir Garrett to the Kansas City Royals, chose not to re-sign Nick Castellanos, and dealt both Winker and Eugenio Suárez to the Seattle Mariners. Winker's stint in Seattle was not pleasant, and the slugger was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers after the 2022 season.

Winker's time in the Cream City was like much of his tenure in Cincinnati. The slugger spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, and became a free agent this past offseason after playing just 61 games with the Brew Crew in 2023. But Winker seems to have caught lightning in a bottle after latching on with the Washington Nationals this winter.

Former Reds slugger Jesse Winker enjoying resurgence with the Nationals

The Reds saw firsthand just how ready Winker was to begin the 2024 season. The Nats were the Reds' Opening Day opponent, and Winker feasted on his old team. During those three games late last month, Winker hit .455/.571/.545 with five hits during the series.

Winker has continued that hot-streak to begin the year. The 30-year-old is hitting .350/.490/.525 with four doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Winker also has shown that same type of plate disicipline to begin his 2024 campaign that made him such a threat in the middle of the Reds lineup for all those years. Winker has the same number of strikeouts (8) as walks (8) to begin the season.

Winker's 1.015 OPS is 10th among all National League players, and his .490 on-base percentage is tops in the NL. Believe it or not, Winker has even shown off his wheels while playing baseball in our nation's capital with two stolen bases on the young season.

What the Nats have received from Winker looks more like the All-Star version of the former Reds outfielder who was named a starter for the Midsummer Classic back in 2021. Winker's unexpected resuragance is certainly welcome news for a Nationals team that saw another former Reds player hit the injured list before taking a swing this season.

Nick Senzel, who signed a one-year deal with Washington this winter, was placed on the IL after fracturing his thumb during warmups on Opening Day in Cincinnati. Anyone who's followed baseball for the past few seasons is likely surprised by Winker's red-hot start, but not shocked by Senzel's placement on the injured list.

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