While Cincinnati Reds fans have known longer than others, all MLB fans are starting to catch on to the fact that there is some major talent unfolding in Cincinnati.
For a long time, Joey Votto has been the face of that franchise, but two new names are beginning to make a case for that distinction.
Winker carried a .346 batting clip into play Wednesday, complementing league-leading marks in OPS (1.061) and total bases (134).
The 27-year-old has 17 home runs on the year, including two separate three-home-run games.
ANOTHER THREE-HOMER GAME FOR JESSE WINKER pic.twitter.com/g5nBJdfoxc
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) June 6, 2021
Since May 21, Winker is slashing .365/.429/.794 with nine home runs over 15 games.
Those numbers may seem ridiculous, and they’re made even more ridiculous when you consider the fact that his numbers on the season aren’t terribly far off from his numbers over that span.
Candidly, Winker’s 2.0 WAR might hinder his MVP case.
Most value statistics see Winker as a net negative on defense, and he currently has a -0.5 defensive WAR.
Some of the top WAR marks in baseball right now range between 3.0 and 4.0.
Winker will likely have to make up sound ground in that department if he wants serious MVP consideration.
Castellanos is having the best season of his nine-year career, and it’s not particularly close.
The 29-year-old entered Wednesday with a league-best .357 batting average.
He is reaching base at a phenomenal .412 clip and is slugging .624.
Add those numbers up and you get a 1.036 OPS, which would be the best mark of Castellanos’ career if it holds.
Castellanos has never made an All-Star team, let alone receive MVP consideration.
Both of those things are about to change.
Since the beginning of May, Castellanos has gone on a tear, batting .398 with a 1.098 OPS, five home runs, and 13 doubles over 30 games.
That’s a reasonably big sample size to be batting close to .400.
Unlike Winker, Castellanos’ 2.5 WAR is a bit closer to the pace that some of the league’s other MVP candidates are on.
Over a full 162, that 2.5 WAR projects to level out to about 7.6, which should put Castellanos firmly in the mix.
I love Nick Castellanos pic.twitter.com/gSGxnMoIpV
— Cincy Sports TV (@CincySportsTV) June 5, 2021
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen any pair of teammates produce at the offensive level that Winker and Castellanos currently are.
The future is exceptionally bright for this Reds club.
That said, Winker and Castellanos currently have 35-to-1 and 12-to-1 betting odds, respectively, for the MVP award, and there’s a reason for that.
Reason being, the Reds entered Wednesday with a fourth-place 29-30 record.
Playing for a contending team is often an important piece of criteria for many MVP voters.
If Cincinnati is able to get into the playoff picture, however, this could become a different story altogether.
Baseball Reference currently gives the team a 7.4 percent chance of reaching the postseason.
It would be a shame if the Reds’ bullpen and rotation issues end up costing the team a shot at a playoff run.
We’ll see how both the MVP race and the playoff race unfold.