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.
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.