The Four Outfielders and the Case for Three: Jesse Winker

I was going to write this yesterday but, instead, wound up watching Infinity War for a second time. Ok, it wasn’t like it was someone else’s idea to take me…just can’t get enough Thanos…but I digress. This post will talk about, probably, the most clear-cut keeper when it comes to the fantastic four in the Reds outfield.

Jesse Winker is the young guy. Just came up last year…I saw his first major league hit (not to brag)…and, already, finds himself a mainstay at he top of he lineup card. I wrote a little something about Mr. Winker in an earlier piece, and, so far (tiny sample size) he has proven it a good take. Fangraphs helped me, tremendously, with this piece, and the one about Billy Hamilton (but I forgot to mention it in that post).

Jesse gets on base. In his 39 games in 2018 he has compiled a .363 on-base percentage. His discipline at the plate is so good he walks as much as he strikes out (13.7% of the time). In fact, Winker is second on the team in walks (20) only to Joey Votto (29).

So why doesn’t he play more?

Immediately, and really it’s the first thing you notice on a stat sheet, he’s batting a ho-hum .258, roughly one hit every four at-bats. When he does get hits, he rarely runs more than 90 feet, having only nine extra-base hits, all of which are doubles.

Some of that can be attributed to his strangely high rate of infield fly balls at 11%. Now that’s more of a descriptive stat, and not so much predictive, but his past seasons in the minors show he typically gets the ball out of the infield.

Another strange, obvious stat is that his HR/FB rate is 0%. Now I’m no prophet, but I’d bet that goes up before the All-Star Break.

Stats that do have positive signs attached to them are the fact he is only swinging at 21% of the pitches he sees outside the strike zone. When there’s a pitch in he zone, he’s making contact on 95% of those, and hitting 88% of all the pitches he sees. Again, these aren’t crazy predictive stats, but if those continue, his batting average and slugging percentage will improve.

The biggest knock on Jesse, though, is his defense. According to Fangraphs, Winker has a -5.1 WAR, or in other words, a league average defender would be better than him. With Billy Hamilton roaming around centerfield, this is kind of negated, but it is something to keep an eye on. Winker doesn’t have that good of range in the outfield and doesn’t have the arm to make up for his lack of agility.

Two down, two to go. Next time, we’ll look at Adam Duvall’s performance, this far.

Advertisements