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.

35 Responses

  1. Kap

    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

  2. Jason Linden

    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.

    • citizen54

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

      • citizen54

        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.

      • citizen54

        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.

      • CP

        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::

      • citizen54

        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.

      • citizen54

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

  3. Chad Dotson

    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.

    • Bill Lack

      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.

  4. james garrett

    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.

    • IndyRedMan

      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. IndyRedMan

    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?

  6. james garrett

    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.

  7. Chuck Schick

    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?

  8. Sliotar

    “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.

    • james garrett

      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

  9. TR

    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.

  10. Indy Red Man

    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

    • IndyRedMan

      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

  11. Derek B.

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

    • Marquis

      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.

    • Da bear

      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)

  12. Jonrox

    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.

    • Jonrox

      “Winkler” is an auto-correct fail, btw

  13. Derek B.

    I do not consider 15 home runs to be impressive

    • jonrox

      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.

    • james garrett

      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.

      • Derek B.

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

      • IndyRedMan

        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!

  14. Derek B.

    28 home runs gor Duval. I’m not trading him at all

  15. Dave Bell

    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.)

  16. brunsfam

    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.