The soon-to-be-28-year-old is already in his fifth MLB season, but the casual fan may only now be hearing his name for the first time.
Winker is working on a ridiculous 2021 season, and he’s finally starting to get some respect, but is ultimately still flying under the radar.
Winker is undoubtedly one of the most underrated players in baseball, and it’s time for that to change.
Appreciating Winker’s 2021 Season
Winker’s 2021 season so far has been nothing short of unbelievable.
He currently leads the National League in OPS (1.077), OPS+ (177), home runs (17), and total bases (133).
He also has a .350 average and a 2.1 WAR.
Winker has made headlines lately after registering his second three-home-run game in the span of a month.
Since his first three-home-run game on May 21, Winker is slashing .379/.446/.845.
That absurd .845 slugging percentage is a product of nine home runs over the 14-game span.
JESSE WINKER HAS DONE IT AGAIN!! HIS SECOND THREE HOMER GAME IN LESS THAN THREE WEEKS!! NINE HOME RUNS IN HIS LAST 14 GAMES!! pic.twitter.com/L1ruKH9emc
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 6, 2021
Winker is producing at a rate that can be compared to a prime Joey Votto, another legendary Red who has been underrated throughout his whole career.
Winker currently has the 12th-shortest MVP odds according to most sportsbooks, but he’d surely be higher on the list if the Reds were a contending team.
Let’s Not Forget How Good He Looked Before This Year
Perhaps we should have seen this coming.
Winker has been producing at a very solid clip for five years now, but we never heard anything about the young star before this season.
From 2017-20, Winker batted .280 with an .859 OPS over 303 games.
He debuted (but did not exceed rookie limits) in 2017, and slashed .208/.375/.529 over 47 games.
Those numbers alone should have been enough to garner some attention.
But just for good measure, Winker went out in 2018 (his rookie year) and did it again.
He batted .299 and reached base at an exceptional .405 clip over an 89-game sample size.
In 2019, Winker proved that his first two seasons were no joke by posting an OPS of .830, then he posted the highest OPS of his career (at that point) in 2020 with a .932 mark.
Again: we should have seen this coming.
Maybe not to this degree, but we should have known that Winker was a bonafide young star capable of doing some major damage.
JESSE WINKER IS STILL NOT HUMAN pic.twitter.com/CC4TG3XdMk
— Cincinnati 💔 (@CincyProblems) June 6, 2021
Winker Was A Key Piece In Getting The Reds To The Postseason In 2020
The Reds took advantage of the expanded postseason in 2020 and claimed their first playoff berth since 2013.
Although the run ended quickly in the NL Wild Card series, it was a refreshing sight for fans to see.
Now let’s make one thing clear: they would not have been there without Winker.
Winker was far and away the best offensive player on that 2020 team, posting a team-best OBP (.388), OPS (.932), and OPS+ (137).
His 1.3 WAR led all hitters.
It was extremely eye-opening to see Winker emerge as such a pivotal part of a postseason team, and it seems likely that we are going to see that happen several more times before the young stud calls it quits way down the road.