Big League Ready

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Jesse Winker

Jesse Winker, you may have noticed, is finally getting some playing time in the big leagues. Through his first 70-odd plate appearances, he’s been more or less a league average hitter. He’s also been above average at getting on base, even though his batting average isn’t great.

That’s right, kids. Jesse Winker can take a walk. So far, he’s walking 13% of the time while striking out about 16% of the time. Those aren’t Votto numbers, but they’re pretty darn close. What’s most interesting is that no one is scared of Winker yet. Sure, he’s had a couple of homers, but he’s not a power hitter in any real sense of the word. He’s just a good hitter with good command of the strike zone. The more I look at him, the more I think the Reds may have developed the poor man’s Joey Votto. And who better to hit in front of the actual Joey Votto than the poor man’s Votto.

Earlier in the season, I was of the opinion that it didn’t matter which outfielder they traded, the just needed to trade an outfielder. I’m no longer of that opinion. Jesse Winker has made it clear that the Reds need to trade Schebler or Duvall (probably Schebler) unless they can commit to some kind of platoon or fourth outfielder situation with them.

The Reds need Hamilton’s defense in center. And they need Winker getting on base. League average OBP is .329 this year (excluding pitchers). Right now, counting Winker, the Reds have six regular or semi-regular players with OBPs above league average. Generally, they are well above. On a related note, the Reds are 5th in the NL in runs. Teams that get on base score. Jesse Winker is only getting his first taste of the big leagues and he already gets on base.

The Reds should keep that up. Get Senzel up here soon. Make sure Winker starts in right field next year. If anyone else comes around with an otherworldly skillset like Hamilton that doesn’t include OBP, but demands playing time, that’s fine. But, otherwise, let’s get on base.

Give me Winker leading off and then Senzel and then Suarez and then Votto. Heck, re-sign Cozart and bat him ahead of Votto and put Suarez fifth. Adam Duvall can be Joe Carter and get his million RBIs batting behind those guys.

Winker doesn’t waste at bats, and that’s a good thing. The Reds seem inclined to let him play; that’s also a good thing. Once he’s used to the big leagues, we might find ourselves surprised at how good of a thing it is.

59 thoughts on “Welcome to the Big Leagues, Jesse Winker

  1. I would keep all four OFs and let it sort itself out. None are making a lot of money and there doesn’t seem to be a large interest in corner outfielders at the moment. Hamilton gets injured often and Schebler can man CF if needed. I would rather have any of the current four on the bench than whatever veteran/AAAA player would get signed in the off season

    • I’m coming around to this point of view. Unless you can get something useful in return — and that’s certainly possible — I’d keep Duvall and Schebler. Schebler would be a GREAT 4th outfielder.

      That, of course, is dependent upon the idea that Winker would be starting every day.

      • I haven’t looked lately, but Schebler did have pretty good splits, so he has value. If I was going to trade someone, it’d be Hamilton. His cost vs value is going to change drastically and he simply is never going to learn how to hit and/or get on base enough to be an effective offensive player.

  2. Thanks Jason. I agree with Duvall and Winker as corner outfielders.
    The WAR article the other day really suggested to me that the Reds have too many players with limitations…..players who possess a flaw that will never allow them to be a 3.5 – 4 WAR player. Suarez and Duvall managed to elevate themselves to that level and that needs to be the standard.

    For that reason, I am joining the Tom D camp that Billy Hamilton needs to be traded and the Reds acquire a young AAA major league ready CF who is being blocked at the position in AAA. Billy is a great defensive CF but a low producing overall CF when compared to the rest of MLB. He is near the bottom of centerfielders in WAR. He is regressing and his 1.3 WAR isn’t acceptable. CF is a crucial position and the Reds need a 3-4 WAR complete player the next 3 seasons until Siri or Trammell is ready. The standard has to be higher. I would put Senzel at 3b, Suarez at SS and platoon Gennett and Herrera at 2b. Blandino and Peraza can be infield depth. Ervin is ready to be the 4th outfielder and Schebler traded. Schebler would be a great LH bat/DH/OF in the American League.

    Then focus all on pitching.

    • Everyone can’t be a 3-4 WAR player. 4 WAR is generally considered to be All-Star caliber. No one has all-stars at every position. Every team needs some players in the 1.5-3 WAR range. These are your average guys, who cover a position without being a disaster.

      Do you know of any blocked legit CF prospects who would reasonably project to be better than Hamilton? I don’t. Because CF prospects tend to not be blocked. If you’ve got specific names, I’m interested to hear them, but the minors aren’t just overflowing with MLB all-stars waiting for a shot. They are, generally, overflowing with minor league baseball players.

      • I think Jesse Winker is a 3 WAR player as a RF next year.
        Nick Senzel will be a 3-4+ WAR player.
        Zach Cozart is too now.
        Suarez and Votto will combine for 10 WAR this year and might next year and the next year.
        The catching duo of Mesoraco and Barnhart could be close to 3 in 2018 .
        Duvall will be near 3 this year after an All Star year last year.
        A Gennett/ Herrera platoon would be very productive if Herrera is healthy.

        Tom D recently suggested Tyler Naquin at AAA Cleveland and Alex Verdugo Dodgers AAA. Lorenzo Cain has been a great CF for the Royals. Its time to move on from the Walt Jocketty CF model of no-hit Drew Stubbs/Billy Hamilton. There are CF who can actually hit last time I checked and accrue 3-4 WAR and play defense too.

        • I like Winker but If he can’t hit for power, he isn’t going to be worth 3-4 WAR in RF.

          • Tony Gwynn hit double digit home runs once in his first 10 years. Yet, he was a hitting machine and an on-base machine…. His OPS was below .800 in 7 of his first 11 years. Not saying Winker is Tony Gwynn….but you don’t have to hit 25 home runs to be a good player.

            Scott Schebler has power. He also has a below average wRC+ with a WAR of 0.6
            Kyle Schwarber has 19 home runs and is hitting .196.

            Can we let Winker get 1000 at bats before we say he has now power.
            I think we will say after 1000 at bats he is a great hitter.

          • Not sure why you are comparing Winker to Tony Gwynn. Tony Gwynn slugged .459 for his career. I don’t know if Winker is going to have power but if he doesn’t he isn’t going to be a 3 WAR player in RF which is all am I saying. He is on pace for around 1.6 WAR if you extrapolate his stats out to a full year.

          • “Not comparing Winker to Gwynn”.
            The point about Gywnn is he had no HR power , but he won batting titles and got on base and was super.
            The hackneyed argument about Winker, who is just starting his career, yet is labeled as no power is tiring. playing in GABP and see what his slash line is. Billy Hamilton got 2000 at bats and still cant hit. Schebler has started now for a year and got 600 at bats.
            Can we give Winker some playing time? Lets see what Winker does with 500-1000 at bats.
            I think he will be somewhere around .285/.375/.425/.800.
            That’s a good hitter.

          • Tony Gwynn had 8 seasons of 3+ WAR and less than 10 home runs.
            Tony Gwynn didn’t have “power”.
            He hit singles and doubles and walked a ton and didn’t strike out.

          • I never said he wasn’t going to hit for power. I said if he doesn’t hit for power he isn’t going to be worth 3 WAR. You’re the one who is assuming he is going to hit for power. I don’t know if he will or won’t. Just being able to get on base at a good clip doesn’t automatically make a right fielder worth 3 WAR.

          • Tony Gwynn had 8 seasons of 3+ WAR and less than 10 home runs.
            Tony Gwynn didn’t have “power”.
            He hit singles and doubles and walked a ton and didn’t strike out.

          • Gwynn didn’t walk a lot. He simply hit .338 for his career with a sub 5% K rate. Sounds easy!

            :: thumbs down::

            :: fart noise::

          • The factually incorrect statement was Jesse Winker couldn’t achieve 3 WAR without prodigious power…. Rod Carew and Derek Jeter and Tony Gwynn and Wade Boggs would disagree. their .120+ ISO power numbers disagree…their incredible BB/k ratios disagree. Their BA and OBP and wRC+ disagree… their incredible career WAR numbers and Hall of Fame plaques disagree…..they all achieved 3-7 WAR per season for 15 years without hitting more than 10-15 home runs.

          • Wade Boggs played third base and Derek Jeter played SS which are premium postions. They did not play right field. Rod Carew played first and second but was a plus defender for most of his career and had a slugging percentage close to .500 during his peak.

            I said Jess Winker won’t reach 3 WAR without showing some power. How is that factually incorrect? Seems like you don’t understand that WAR is adjusted by someone’s position. Since Jess Winker does not have plus speed and is not a plus defender he is going to need more than just a high OBP to be an above average right fielder. That’s why scouts ding him for his power. Not sure how hard that is to understand.

          • So now war is solely dependent on position? Bryce Harper and Votto and Arenoado and blackmon are playing different sports????Apples and oranges is it?

            Gwynn played what position without power? RF? Oh Yeah. And had season after season of 3+ WAR and less than 10 home runs…look at his baseball card from age 23-32.

            let’s be clear…Winker will have some power. It’s the people who write him off now…after 100 bats at age 23 that are simply wrong.

            the kid hits…has plate discipline…has some power and ops and wRC+ and WAR. Let’s see how that play’s over 1000 at bats.

          • Yes WAR contains an adjustment for position. No offense but why are you making WAR predictions without even know what they mean?

          • Let’s go back…you said Winker can’t get to 3 WAR without power ..Tony gwynn did it for a decade…he played RF. Lots of other players achieved 3 WAR without great power. Power isn’t WAR. War isn’t power

  3. Look for a team in need of a corner outfielder this winter. I opinioned the Athletics as they really only have Khris Davis in left with center and right being question marks. They also happen to have two starting pitchers (Manaea and Graveman) who could help the Reds with the biggest issue for them going forward. All speculation but they really do need some quality starting pitching to become competitive again

  4. Lets see what Schebler does once his shoulder healed before we trade him.He was on pace for 30 or more homers,a 250 or better average and obp right at league average before he went into the slump which probably was because of his bad shoulder.The Reds need Billy’s defense but if it comes at the expense of what Scott brings offensively then that’s a mistake.Billy is the odd man out in my opinion if someone is traded.

    • I agree…sort of:) I don’t think Schebler would be any worse defensively then Dexter Fowler or Jon Jay. I’m not sold on his as a hitter though? When he connects…he can go Wily Mo Pena but wayyyy too many Ks!!

      Austin Jackson will be a free agent. He must be a sub because he’s only got 161 atbats but a 907 ops and .736 lifetime. Pay him and platoon w/Schebler. Cut Billy loose

  5. The Old Cossack falls right in line with your thinking Jason, but there’s one BIG flaw that must be addressed. As long as Price is the manager, Hamilton is going to lead off. If Winker doesn’t lead off, most of his value becomes flushed down the Ohio River. Like you mentioned, Winker’s “been more or less a league average hitter.” His value comes from his ability to get on base. If he’s getting on base with Peraza, Barnhart, the pitcher and Hamilton following him in the lineup, his value is wasted.

    I much prefer to keep all 4 OF in house to mitigate against a starting OF going down for any extended period of time, unless the Reds get an offer they can’t refuse regarding one of the OF. If that happens, then any of the 4 OF are available for the right offer.

    I lke Suarez in the #2 hole between Winker and Votto. I think we have seen the emergence of Suarez as a hitter this season with the type of hitter he will be through the prime of his career. I also like Senzel hitting behind Votto rather than in front of Votto, but those details are minor, even miniscule, in the grander scheme.

    I’m also in the camp espousing serious consideration for trying to extend Cozart on a 3 year contract, as long as the finacial terms make sense, and doing so before the end of this season. Since the Reds are/were prepared to go with Peraza as the starting SS, Peraza would serve as a viable partner at SS to routinely spell Cozart during the season and cover for any recurring, nagging injuries. Hopefully, better playing time management for Cozart (again a serious issue as long as Price is the manager) would help to keep him healthy and playing near 100% during the season. The Reds, like virtually any MLB team, can afford to carry a defense only player in the lineup, but carrying more than one simply cripples the lineup. The Reds can not afford to carry both Peraza and Hamilton as starters in the lineup. If they must carry one defense only starter, it doesn’t get much better than Hamilton in CF.

    • Either way it goes w/Cozart….they’ll still have the Senzel, Suarez, Scooter dilemma? Personally I’d rather have Blandino platoon w/Scooter and be a utility guy then Peraza. Or Cozart stays and they move Senzel to 2B & put Scooter in the Ben Zobrist utility role. Either way…just don’t think Hamilton or Peraza really fit these franchise and the way GABP plays. They can’t hit the ball out and their flares don’t bloop in either?

    • Let me throw this out there for you Mr. Cossack and try it on for size with regards to a 2-3 year extension for Cozart.
      For 2018:
      Votto 30+ HR at 1B.
      Duvall 30+ HR at LF.
      Suarez 20+ HR at 3B/2B.
      Senzel 20+ HR at 3B.
      Cozart 20+ HR at SS.
      Gennett 20+ HR utility.
      Mesoraco/Barnhart 20+ HR from C spot.
      Winker 15+ HR at RF.
      Suarez would play SS on Cozart’s off days.
      Now, you can hide Billy Hamilton 9th in a lineup with these guys.
      Curiously, that leaves Scott Schebler and Jose Peraza available to be included in a super-package for trade for that very good starting pitcher.

      • A trade headlined by Schebler and Peraza isn’t going to garner a very good pitcher….especially one that is controllable. Why would another team make that move?

        • Schebler’s stock is up since the Reds got him and Peraza’s is down. I think they kind of offset each other. They were the return for Todd Frazier and were said to be the return that the Reds were going to get for Chapman before the domestic violence incident occurred that smoked that trade. If they were good enough for the Reds, it’s likely they’d be good enough to land a fair starter. Very unlikely to land to land a #1/#2 type starter or cost-controlled mid-rotation guy without a quality prospect added to the list. Having Schebler and Peraza in the deal though makes it much less likely the Reds would have to part with a “A/B+” kind of prospect though.

    • I agree Old Cossack with your first paragraph and that’s the way it will be the rest of this year and next when Price returns.

    • Cossack- you make a lot sense a lot of the time.
      Let me play devil’s advocate….and I go back and forth on Cozart because he’s such a good player when he’s healthy.
      Suarez was quoted all weekend as referencing SS as his “natural position” and fully supporting a return. Cozart I would think is a minimum 3 year 35 million deal. Define “financial terms that make sense” in your view. Is there not an argument to take that money and other monies not being spent on payroll now at ~$85 million and sign a FA pitcher like Lance Lynn instead or sign say a 6 year extension for Suarez? The opportunity cost of a Cozart extension is real.

      Also, isn’t it time for the former #1 pick Philip Ervin to be the 4th outfielder? He’s major league minimum and could play all 3 spots.

    • Man . . . a lineup that starts with Winker, Suarez, Votto, and Senzel sounds pretty nice. And that’s not even getting to Duvall, Schebler.

      🙂

  6. Duvall has won the LF spot. Paws down. I used to be open to the idea of trading him, but not anymore. He is a building block. He has become a much better hitter as he plays. His XBH cannot be easily replaced. Schebler can’t match that. Schebler is a good player, but with Winker, Schebler becomes a little more expendable. And then there is now a re-surging Phillip Ervin that gets mixed into the equation.
    What does Schebler’s value become as he sits more often as a 4th or even 5th OF?? When today, or this winter, does he have more value as a trade high player to get some needed good starting pitching? It won’t just be how well Schebler plays out the rest of this season that will determine his fate. But also how well Winker plays, and how well Ervin plays. If Ervin plays well through September, it lessens the need for Schebler to be a backup for CF.
    An acquiring AL team for Schebler, not only could play him at LF, RF, some CF, and DH, they also could try to groom him some for 1B too. He does have some athleticism and his deceptive speed is also a marketable trait. Without a DH, Schebler only can play spots for the Reds that they don’t really have a need for. His power will be missed, but if he can help in a trade package bring back a good top of rotation starter, the Reds should try to go after another Mat Latos type of trade.

    • “The Reds need Hamilton’s defense in center.”

      Colorado (with its massive outfield) and Miami are 2 teams, at a minimum, that have guys (Blackmon and Yelich) with negative WAR defensively, playing CF every day. The offense those guys provide apparently well outweigh any defensive deficiencies.

      Nothing against Hamilton personally, but:
      -He has never reached the league average of .329 OBP in any season
      -He can’t hit left-handers. At all.
      -His home/road splits are very noticeable this season
      -He probably should not be hitting leadoff, as Chad noted in game recap last night

      The Reds have 2 years of cost control on Hamilton to either:
      -Find his replacement or
      -Get a platoon partner installed

      His defense does not outweigh all of the shortcomings, especially when overall he going to be, at most, a 2 WAR player this season.

      • I will take Blackman.Yelich and Schebler any day in center especially in GABP since any ball over there head is going out.I wouldn’t pay 6 miilion for Billy’s defense but I think the Reds will.I see at least one more year of Billy hitting lead off with no power and a below 300 obp

    • I don’t quite get the notion that Duvall is obviously more of a keeper than Schebler. For most of this season, the two went back and forth with virtually identical stats. I think it’s reasonable to speculate that if not for Schebler’s shoulder injury, that would still be true. They had virtually identical minor league stats. Now throw in the fact that only Schebler can play the more valuable defensive position of CF (giving him more room to slide leftward on the defensive spectrum as he ages), and you have a very real advantage. And that’s before we get to the really, really big advantage, one that I think gets underappreciated regularly on this site: Schebler is 26 (younger than the historical age of peak performance), while Duvall is 28 (older than said peak age). This is not a small thing. Because neither warranted playing time at 22 or 23 or 24, it is extremely unlikely that either one will have lengthy careers as productive hitters. Sorry, those are the historical facts. But I’ll take the hitter who is 10% better than league average and who has a year or two to improve all day long over one who is 10% better than average but on the wrong side of 27-28 years of age.

      That is also why I scratch my head at those who want to see how things play out between Winker and Duvall and Schebler. I’m sorry–if Winker is currently a league-average hitter at 23 (a reasonable assumption, it appears), then it’s a no freakin’ brainer: he’s going to be better, probably a lot better, and he’ll have scads more career value over the next 15 years than either of the older players. If that doesn’t prove true, it will be a very big anomaly. That’s simply how player development works the vast majority of the time. And it’s why players should be in the Major Leagues as soon as they prove capable of handling it. (It is a shame that Joey Votto had to wait until he was 24 to find a regular position in the Majors. That’s simply crazy for a hitter of his caliber, and I just pray it doesn’t result in his not having career numbers that land him in Cooperstown.)

  7. I think now is the time to trade Hamilton and see what Ervin can do in center field. Hamilton’s speed and defense could perhaps get the Reds a mid-level starting pitcher from a team with a spacious outfield. Shebler should be traded to the AL as a DH. I don’t think he has the arm strength for center field. A settled outfield of Duvall, Ervin and Winker with the 4th. and 5th.outfielders moving up from the minors would be strong offensively.

  8. If any trades take place for one of our outfielders, it should happen next deadline rather than over the offseason. Then the Reds get ample time to ensure that Winker is the real deal (which I believe he will) and also to see how a rotation of Duvall/Schebler/Hamilton would work in reality. Let Winker play almost every day and Schebler can rotate in for either Duvall or Hamilton on a given day (each guy rests 1/3 of the games – 108 games give or take). We’ll find out how well Schebler can play CF when he plays for Hamilton 1/3 of the time.

    Once the Reds determine who is the weakest player of the four, then they can either trade said player or keep him as a likely great 4th outfielder. If it is Duvall or Schebler, then you have a legitimate power bat off the bench for a cheap price; if it is Hamilton, then you have an explosive pinch-runner and defensive substitute; and hopefully it is not Winker, but his OBP skills would be nice addition to bench in a worst case scenario.

    If I had to predict how it shakes out, Duvall plays RF, Winker plays LF and Hamilton plays CF – though I think the competition between Schebler and Billy in CF may be the ultimate decision for the OF situation.

    • I was looking at 2017-18 free agents and Austin Jackson (Indians) will be a free agent. He’s having a great year (.391 obp and .907 ops) although its only 160 atbats but he’s got a lifetime .335 obp which isn’t bad. He’s always been good defensively and he’s only 30 & makes only 1.5 mil. They could pay him for 2 years with some of Cozarts $ and platoon him w/Schebler and Winker when needed. Billy is what he is at this point. They need to move on. Kivehan can be in the mix as well plus Scooter can help out in the OF at times. That would be $ well spent! Jackson has a lifetime .736 ops which isn’t great but 100 points higher then Billy. He could be in a leadoff platoon w/Winker and play more regularly if Schebler struggled

      • AJax is an injury waiting to happen. That’s the last thing the Reds need. No thanks.

        • 1.5 mil is not a big risk? Hamilton doesn’t help the Reds overall…just by the fact that Price can never figure out that he shouldn’t be getting the 640 atbats that he’s on pace for this year

    • Therein lies the crux of the problem the Reds have in their outfield. It isn’t that they have 4 guys for 3 spots. It’s that they have 3 left fielders, 1 center fielder, and 0 right fielders.

  9. I just fail to see the excitement about Winker. I just see a player with very little power on a team that needs power.

    • How does this team need more power?
      Votto, Duvall, schebler, Suarez, Scooter, and even Cozart and Mez when healthy all provide power? I’m pretty sure we are top 5 in runs scored in the NL also.

    • Reds have plenty of power. They need guys with consistency far more than the numerous streaky hitters they currently have. Winker goes a long way to smooth out offensive production compared to the other three outfielders. Need more Votto’s, fewer Schebler/Duvall/Dunn/Bruce types (though Jay has become more consistent since his trade away)

  10. Jesse Winkler appears to be projecting as a .300/.400/.450 batter with 15 HR power. That’s like literally career-peak Shin-Soo Choo.

    • I don’t think anyone is saying 15 HRs is impressive. Most people recognize that there are other positive outcomes of an at-bat, though.

    • Getting on base or hitting for power plays in the big leagues.Ideally you want both and in Winker playing half his games at GABP you can book it he will hit 15 homers.

      • Sorry he looks like a spare to me. I’m not impressed at all. They need someone else. So rebuild will take longer.

        • Getting on base at .350+ is a skill. The Reds had plenty of years where they just waited on HRs with Dunn/Griffey/etc and it never worked. Winker gets on base and he sprays the ball around which keeps slumps shorter. The Reds have plenty of other power hitters!

        • I’m not sure how you can look at a guy with that few ABs and at his young age and determine he’s a spare. He may well be but I don’t think there is any way any of us could make an informed decision based on what little we’ve seen and his age.

  11. There’s some serious sorting going on here! It’s great to see.

    What is obvious to all is that we have a plethora of solid, every-day players. Like just about every other ML team, we need starting pitching. We have some trade-able pieces to help us get closer. Now Mr. Williams will be put to the test. Can he fill the holes, move the pieces and create a winner?

    The cream is rising to the top and the weaknesses are quite visible. It may be an interesting Winter. The signing (or not) of Cozart will be an early signal.

  12. If I was the Reds, I’m looking at Schebler for trade bait, plugging in Winker at RF. We have plenty of power. We need people to get on base for that power. I’m tired of seeing Hamilton leading off. I could understand keeping him in there. But, he’s simply been useless leading off; drop him in the order. “As of now”, I say put Winker and Cozart somehow in the 1-2 position.

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