For the last two season in Triple-A the big question has been “will Jesse Winker hit for power again?” as he managed just five total home runs in 191 games and 795 plate appearances. The average was there, hitting .308 in that span. The plate approach was there as he had 97 walks and 105 strikeouts. The power was the question that everyone had, and rightfully so. Sort of.

In the past, Jesse Winker had shown power in the minor leagues. In 2013 he hit 16 home runs for the Dayton Dragons. The next year he hit 15 home runs in just 74 games played. We need to add a caveat there, though, because he did play 53 games in the California League that season and the ball absolutely flies in that league. However, that 2014 season was when things started to go a little bit south in the power department.

The reason that Jesse Winker only played in 74 games was that he suffered a wrist injury in a car accident and it cost him most of the second half of the season. Wrist injuries are notorious for sapping power in the short term, sometimes taking between 8-12 months before power returns to normal, previous levels. In 2015, coming off of the wrist injury, Winker managed just eight extra-base hits in the first two months of the season, slugging just .314. Once June rolled around everything picked up in the power department. It’s important to note that June was 10 months out from the original injury. Over the final 345 plate appearances of the season, starting in June he slugged .497 with 31 extra-base hits.

In 2016 Jesse Winker moved up to Triple-A and he struggled to hit for power. He once again was experiencing wrist problems. He would miss a month between mid-June and mid-July with the Bats. Unlike the previous season, there wasn’t a rebound from a power standpoint to look at.

In 2017 it was more of the same in Triple-A. From April through July, Jesse Winker hit just two home runs. The end of that month marked 12 months returning from the wrist injury the season before that cost him a month on the disabled list. That’s longer than you would expect to see power sapped for a shorter disabled list stint, but not out of line with what we know about wrist injuries and power output.

Then August rolled around the Jesse Winker was brought up to Cincinnati. And out of nowhere the power started showing up. In 94 plate appearances since August 1st the outfielder has two doubles and six home runs. He’s slugging .506 in that span. In roughly a month of playing time he hit three times as many home runs as he had in April through July combined for Louisville.

Now, there is certainly a chance that this is one of those small sample size things where he’s just gotten on a good run. But, there’s a lot of things to note, too. First, the wrist injury timeline fits well with the power coming back. Second is that he was working on getting more out of his lower half of his body with his swing during the summer with Louisville to try and improve his power.

Coming up through the Minor Leagues there was always some questions about just how much power Jesse Winker would hit for. I felt confident that he’s fall into that 20-25 home run range, particularly if he remained with the Reds and was able to take advantage of the sun/moon deck at Great American Ballpark. Depending on who I spoke with on a given day, scouts would fall on the power scale of 12-18 home runs more often than not for Winker. They saw a better hit tool than power tool. That’s not something I’d disagree with in terms of which tool was better, but I always felt a little better about his power than most others did at the ballpark.

Time will eventually tell where exactly it is that Jesse Winker falls on the power spectrum in the Major Leagues. The early part of his career suggested significantly more power than he showed at the Triple-A level. And we may have some evidence that tells us there was a reason he didn’t hit for power there, too. As things stand now, the start of his big league career certainly has shown good power.

47 Responses

  1. Alex

    Definitely agree that winker has the power to be a 20+ homer guy. I have plenty of faith in him performing very well on offense but still some struggles hitting agaisnt lefties. How has schebler looked in cf??I havent watch many games lately but seems like hes played alot of cf with billy out.

  2. sixpacktwo

    How about Duvall moving to right field as he has the Glove and arm for it. That allows Schebler to play ALL and Winkler left field, his best. Our D stays strong.

    • Keith

      Duvall has an OPS of .644 in the second half this year, and .741 in the second half last year. I don’t think he’s a long-term solution, especially if we’re counting on him to perform in the playoffs.

    • Billy

      I couldn’t have been the only one who watched Fowler’s game-tying homer last night that was thinking, “Billy would have caught that.” I know it is tough to rob a ball hit over the fence, but I couldn’t help but think that pretty much any true CF would have been able to get to the wall and position himself to make a good attempt at a leaping catch. Schebler had to attempt to make the play on the run, and he came up just short.

      I realize it is just one play, and that a slight difference in positioning, a favorable gust of wind, a quicker first step, etc. could have made the difference on that one play. Sometimes one play is the one play that really matters though, and I’m not sure that any of us should feel comfortable running Schebler out there in CF unless it is really necessary. I’m all for making Billy the 4th OF/PR/LIDR (which I think would be an awesome role for him), but I’d move Duvall or Schebler for a CF (or give Ervin a crack at it) before giving any serious consideration to Schebler as the regular CF.

      • sultanofswaff

        Without knowing the cost in prospects or money, I can easily say I’m more comfortable with Schebler in CF than Hamilton, all things considered. Billy sure sounded threatened in the article yesterday on reds.com. I think he understands how tenuous his grip on the job is. Then again, with Price as the manager Billy should sleep like a kitten.

      • Billy

        I’m not saying Billy should be comfortable. I am saying that Schebler shouldn’t be the one taking his job.

  3. redleggingfordayz

    The Reds need Jesse Winker in the lineup every single night. Watching him hit that double last night out of the leadoff spot and Joey knocking him in. Really a thing of beauty, I honestly can’t believe we have had to wait this long for someone actually qualified to hit in front of Joey.

  4. sultanofswaff

    I too think Jesse’s power is underrated. The home runs will be an extension of the hit tool—they say home run balls are thrown, not hit. Jesse knows what to do with mistake pitches.

    At the same time, he looks like the weight room isn’t his favorite place to visit. More strength will help his opposite field approach find more real estate.

    I still say his swing reminds me of Don Mattingly.

  5. Tony

    Winker has to hit for power and average to be an everyday player because he can’t run, throw or field. He has a chance to be a good player but let’s temper the excitement because what he has show thus far in a late season role isn’t better than any of the 3 regular OFs. Right now he’s a 4th OF who gets replaced for defense in the late innings.

  6. MK

    I think they should try to trade Schebler this winter. I like Jesse in the lead off spot. Play Billy and bat him in the nine hole. It could develop a really nice left right lineup that way. Winker, Peraza, Votto, Duval, Gennett, Suarez, Barnhart, pitcher, Hamilton.

    • CP

      Unless Peraza keeps up his .330 plus OBP he has shown lately, I’m not super comfortable batting him in the 2 hole. I would rather see him lower in the lineup as well. I would love to see Suarez in that 2 hole until Senzel gets called up. Then drop him back down the lineup.

  7. Tampa Red

    Stud. Now, I hope the Reds start thinking like the Cubs and start stacking talent on the 25-man. Joe Maddon seems to always find a way to get playing time and AB’s for his players. He squeezes Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, Russell, Zobrist, Happ, Hayward, Amaro, Schwarber and Jay into 7 spots with his catcher and get all pretty regular playing time. Essentially, the only two that are in the lineup every day are Bryant and Rizzo.

    Of course, he has versatile guys to work with and I think the Reds do too. When Senzel is ready, a regular rotation of Votto, Gennett, Senzel, Suarez, Peraza, the true SS to be acquired (I hope), Winker, Schebler, Duvall, Hamilton and maybe Ervin to go with Barnhart and Mesaraco would be one hell of a team, offensively and defensively.

    Obviously, Votto would be in the lineup every day. If it were my team, so too would Suarez, somewhere. And if he keeps hitting and performing like this, Winker as well, although maybe you give him a rest against lefties like Kershaw, Quintana, etc. With that kind of roster, when you have the inevitable injuries, you’re not dragging a Paul Janish or Tyler Holt out of AAA to fill in.

    I don’t think payroll will be an issue. None of those guys outside of Votto are highly paid. I hope 2018 is the year the Reds get out of the mindset of a starting 8 and a bench of PH and defensive specialists. I love the way the Cubs and Maddon manage their roster, lineups and PT. I’m not convinced that Price is right guy for that kind of management, but he’s on his last chance. Maybe he will evolve. Maybe.

  8. Greenfield Red

    I’m going off topic for this post. It should be on the 2018 rotation article from the other day, but it has a lot of comments, so I’ll put it here.

    I believe Bailey, Castillo, Romano, Stephenson, Disco (if healthy), Finnegan (if healthy) will make up the lion’s share of the rotation next year with Mahle being next in line. Those 8 make up a pretty good group from which to choose 5. I believe Mahle, Reed, Garrett, Davis, Stephens, Mella, & Farrell will be the rotation at Louisville with Lopez and Bautista having something to say about it.

    Here’s the question: Now that Deck McGuire is on the 40 man, what happens if he shows up in Spring Training and dazzles everyone? I think there is a good chance that happens.

    • Cguy

      I’d like to see Deck get a start yet this season. He could be a wildcard next spring or perhaps a trading piece.

    • CP

      Is Deck out of options? Could he just be another AAA rotation option that waits in the wings to fill in if injury or performance necessitates it?

  9. wes

    Schebler has to be odd man out. He’s 6th in at bats on reds team- 10th in batting average with guys with 100 ab’s. 6th in RBIs. what does he bring at the plate? A decent amount of homers and that’s about it…

    He’s 27, same age as scooter, and Scooter, who was picked up off waivers has had a better season this year than Scherbers had a career. What possible trade value can he have when guys like Scooter can’t be traded?

    Also, I am all for replacing Billy in Center; but to replace a gold glove caliber center fielder who’s going to lead the majors every year in steals for Scott Scherber shouldn’t even be considered.

    He’s in the way of guys who are and have been projected to be better players like Phil Ervin and he needs to be released to make way for next wave of talent coming through.

  10. Cinvenfan

    Here’s my take. Play Senzel in Rf (all offseason and beginning of 2018 to practice), move Winker to Lf where his arm plays better. Then trade Duval/Schebler/BHam for a CF or SS or both using some of the the pitching depth Davis, Mahle.

    • RockyMtnRed

      OF Scott Schebler, RHP Robert Stephenson, SS Jose Peraza, and RHP Rookie Davis to Colorado for SS Trevor Story and OF David Dahl.

    • MK

      Just where is Senzel going to play outfield since you do not get over his balance issues in a matter of days, more like months? As good a third baseman as Suarez has become Senzel when healthy is a better third baseman.

  11. Tony

    Schebler has 39 HRs in only 732 ABs (many of which were with a bad shoulder) in the bigs so he’s still developing as a player despite being 26 years old. He’s an infinitely better runner and fielder than Jesse. To anoint Winker and say Schebler is the odd man out despite several years of team control is comical. The Reds need 5 good OFs if they are even going to be competitive.

    • wes

      He’ll be 27 in a week. and only 732 plate appearances at age 27 because he’s on good enough to play more…power hitting corner outfielders grow on trees at the MLB level that’s why you see them sign for less than middle relievers on free agent market. His value today is same when Reds got him- a throw in player on a trade.

      I’m not creating the value- just using MLB history to generate facts. Facts show guys like this have no trade value- if I’m wrong- show me a like trade where a team gave a decent player for a 27 prospect that plays corner outfield. Ervin, former first round talent, is better in center, faster, and more versatile. “need” is a strong word- If they keep Scherber for certain power hitting siutations than I’m ok with that- if they keep him and try to get him at bats to generate value- it’s a poor choice and it’s better to just cut him.

      • Tony

        It’s funny that you use “facts” to back up your argument and yet there’s almost nothing true in 2 paragraphs of nonsense.

      • wes

        Tony- Chris Carter hit 40 homers in 2016 and Storen had an ERA over 5 with tons of negativity about his velocity and they both made same amount of money this season as free agents. Scooter and Straily (both roughly same age) were both released and signed by Reds and both have had WAY more success than Schebler to this point of his career. Schebler was a throw in on the Peraza deal. Schebler is a 20 something rounder out of a Juco and Phil Ervin went in first round with tons of hype and is faster and more versatile. Even having his best start ever- Schebler wasn’t linked to ANY team during trade season. MLB would list 40-50 players and his name wouldn’t make the list.

        You can google all trades in major league history- please find me one where an unproven 27 year old power hitting corner outfield prospect got any sort of return of value- its not out there! Please prove that fact wrong.

        One more fact- Red fans love their guys regardless of quality of player. There is no place Scheblers value comes close to than on this site- blows my mind! Just trying to make room for reason and logic. Nothing personal against him.

      • MK

        When he hit 40 HR Chris Carter was 29 hit .222 and had over 200 Ks in his 7th big league season with his third big league team and played 155 games at 1st base. Not exactly apples to apples

    • RedsinWashSt

      Wes hadn’t talked about Schebler in a couple of days so he was due.

  12. Tampa Red

    One final follow up, and this is simply my opinion. Others will disagree and that’s cool, all good.

    Planning on every day 8 is 1970’s thinking. I loved the Big Red Machine, but they ain’t coming back. If you look at the teams going to the playoffs this year, they have 11-12 guys with 250 plate appearances or more. Injuries happen. Slumps happen to every player, even Votto. Of course what separates Votto from EVERY other player in the big leagues is his ability to be productive even when he’s in a slump. That isn’t normal. Not now, not in the history of baseball.

    And then there are matchup advantages. And defensive advantages. And lineup advantages. Hamstringing yourself by trading big league ball players to “make room” for certain players is a recipe for disaster.

    Here are the playoff teams with 11-12 guys with over 200 plate appearances:

    Indians — 11 (doesn’t even include Bruce)

    Cubs — 11 (all over 300 plate appearances, think about that)

    Yankees — 13

    Dodgers — 12

    Diamondbacks — 12

    Astros — 12

    Angels — 12 (probably)

    Red Sox — 11, maybe 12

    Outliers are of course, Dusty’s Nationals and the Rockies, who have been incredibly fortunate on the injury front. If the Reds go into 2018 planning on a regular 8, trading away big leaguers to “make room” and stocking the bench with Alcantara, Khivlehan etc, the season will be over before it starts.

    • wes

      Nice post! Good info. I think it’s back and forth with Reds roster. Guys in OF could use less at bats, but guys in IF need more. I think this would be good for reds but we need to see guys moved around to see if they can play other positions. Most importantly Suarez at short and Peraza in Center. If they can hold there own defensively at those positions then Reds have a ton of flexibility.

      If Reds plan is to give Peraza full time short stop next season I think they need to move Suarez in off season. His value is super high and he’s a luxury vs a need for Reds. Package him and either Stephenson/Romero and a third piece to Rays for either Archer or Snell or maybe Honeywell. If I’m the Rays- I’d take that!

      If it’s Archer- he’s under contract through 2021 for 8M per season!

    • The Duke

      Duvall and Schebler seem like a ready made platoon for RF. Gennett has an OPS over 200 points lower vs lefties, maybe platoon him with Peraza, Herrera, or Blandino. Maybe platoon BHam and Ervin in CF, and possibly work in Schebler there if both he and Duvall are both going well at the same time. Catcher is a natural platoon since so few can play more than 120 games, or even 100 any more it seems. Then play Votto, Winker, Suarez at SS, Senzel at 3B every day once Senzel is up except for the occasional off day. With the offensive talent we have, a lineup of half every day guys and half platoon players seems like the best option to me.

      • Tampa Red

        Other than I would try to acquire a true SS and play matchups in the IF a little more, I like that, a lot.

        I just think that if the Cubs can find a way to get Baez, Russell, Happ and Zobrist 300-400 AB’s, the Reds can do the same with their guys. But hey, I could easily live with your plan.

  13. Cguy

    If winker has found his power, that’s great. But Duvall & Schebler haven’t lost their power either. Here’s a thought. What if ML wants to repeat or even increase the record-breaking HR totals of this year in 2018? Trading a young, inexpensive outfielder with 30 HR power to make room for somebody else just doesn’t make sense. particularly if your home ballpark is GABP. Neither does discounting the chances of Cozart & Gennett repeating this seasons offensive stats next year. It’s a bit of a new ballgame, & the Reds have some possible advantages in this environment as their position player roster stands right now.

    • Tampa Red

      Exactly right! The Reds are in a great spot with their position playing roster right now. Young, talented, accomplished, versatile and most important for a small market team, inexpensive and controllable. Potentially, this is the best position player roster top to bottom the Reds will have had in a very long time. It makes no sense to thin that out to “make room.”

      Injuries happen, slumps happen. It’s the big leagues. The other team has big league pitchers and they are trying to win too. Tell ya what, Joe Maddon would find a way to win and win big with that roster. Can Brian Price?

  14. Billy

    If I called the shots and didn’t want to give up prospects to trade for someone, here’s what I’d do for the outfield in 2018…

    1) I’d make Billy Hamilton the most valuable non-starting position player in the league. I’d use him as a LIDR and pinch runner with occasional spot starts in CF to keep him fresh (and to keep my CF rested). I do think Hamilton is a solid player, but I think he is limited as an everyday CF where his value is best judged by context neutral stats (like WAR). Hamilton is a relief pitcher for your offense. You use him in high leverage situations and take advantage of the fact that his skills are best suited to be deployed in a way that is entirely dependent on context.
    2) I’d give Phillip Ervin the first crack at the CF job. I’m not sure that he’s the best answer for CF, but I feel reasonably sure that if he isn’t, the best answer isn’t in the Reds organization right now. Hamilton can do the job, but I’d rather him be a weapon off the bench.
    3) I’d make sure Winker got regular playing time. I’d bat him first or second in the lineup 5 days a week, and play him in LF.
    4) I’d platoon Duvall and Schebler in RF, probably batting them 6th in the lineup. Schebler has a career .807 OPS against righties, and Duvall has a career .798 OPS against lefties. They both have big power and low OBPs. I think they’re both decent defenders. I think you have room in your lineup for a high power, low OBP guy hitting after your high OBP guys. Having two players like that in a lineup limits the value of each because that’s one less hitter that’s frequently on base in front of them. By platooning them, you get the best out of each guy, and you have a big bench bat for the late innings when you need it.

  15. Hoyce

    I think the Reds and Braves match up well in a trade
    The Braves need starting pitching (who doesn’t) a corner OF and a 3B. They have 2 stud CF ready for next year in Acuna and inciarte
    The Reds have surplus in most of these positions
    Trade Suarez Duvall and Bailey. For Acuna maybe a few other prospects (which the Braves are loaded in).
    This opens up positions for reds that are ready. Senzel and winker. Reds may have to take a markakis contract back to secure better prospects. But I think it’s doable

    • rhayex

      Bailey has negative trade value. They’d want Disco, Finnegan, Castillo, etc, none of which the Reds would want to trade if they could avoid it.

      • Doug Gray

        I can’t imagine too many teams seeking to acquire Finnegan or DeSclafani at anywhere near the value at which the Reds should consider moving them. With their injuries, no one is going to pay for them, and for the Reds, there’s too much reward there for them to sell at an absolute low.

  16. Andrew

    Look it up, Winks has a higher home run percentage than Schebler not to mention he will hit 75points and get on base 100points more than Scheb.

    • RedsinWashSt

      Very small sample size for Winker, I don’t believe he will hit more home runs then Schebler or Duvall. Yes he will hit and get on base much better.

      • Michael Smith

        Agreed. In my response to Tony earlier i prefaced that it is a small sample size but so far Winker is a better hitter and its not really close.

  17. Scott Ledridge

    When Winker first came up, Welsh commented that each spring he expects Winker to show up having put on significant weight over the winter. But, it never happens.

    Doug, have you heard if they’ve had him on any kind of off-season training program?

    • Doug Gray

      Every player has a “plan” that is given to them by the organization for the offseason.