Jesse Winker: MVP?

Jesse Winker: MVP?

Cole Paganelli
3 years ago
2 min read

Enter Friday, May 21st, wherein a home game against the Brewers, Winker smashed three home runs for the first time in his career, propelling the Reds to a 9-4 victory. As a result, fans at Great American Ballpark began “MVP!” chants, and even the official Reds Twitter account wrote that they were going to start his MVP campaign.

So although we’re still early in the season, it’s officially time to ask the million-dollar question: Is Winker the National League MVP?


Winker’s stats on his own are impressive enough to warrant this discussion. The 27-year old is slashing .356/.416/.664 with 11 home runs and 26 RBI, not to mention 31 runs and 10 doubles. But to be league MVP, the numbers need to be near the top of the National League.

So far, Winker’s .356 average leads the league and is second in all of baseball to White Sox rookie Yermin Mercedes. He’s third in the NL in OBP but is the league leader in slugging percentage. Additionally, he’s now tied for third in the NL in home runs, fourth in runs, fifth in hits, and second in total bases.

With top-five rankings in nearly every major hitting category, that certainly gives Winker a legitimate case. Even more impressive is the fact that he has played in only 37 games, compared to other MVP candidates like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nolan Arenado, who have played over 40 games.


It should be noted that neither of these cons has anything to do with Winker. However, both of them are things that may keep him from winning the award, assuming that his numbers are still among the best in the sport.

First, it naturally doesn’t help an MVP candidate when his team isn’t winning a ton of games. Entering Saturday, the Reds are just 20-23, fourth place in the NL Central. Again, it’s certainly not because of Winker, but only players like Mike Trout have been able to overcome bad team performance and win an MVP.

The second con is that Winker’s teammate, right fielder Nick Castellanos, has been as good as Winker in many areas and even better in a couple. Castellanos has the same amount of runs, doubles, and homers, one more RBI and total base, and has a WAR of 2.2, 0.5 higher than Winker’s. It’s possible that voters would give the edge to Castellanos over Winker or that votes would split between the two and hurt both of their chances.

Final Verdict

After looking into it a bit more, one thing is absolutely clear. Winker deserves to be in the discussion for NL MVP based solely on numbers alone. And as long as he continues to be near the top of the league in offensive statistics, there’s no reason his case shouldn’t be made.

However, if voted on today, Winker is likely just short of the mark. Someone on a first-place team like Arenado may get the slight edge, and Castellanos might be viewed as more valuable on his own team. Regardless, the fact that this is a legitimate debate speaks volumes about how impressive Winker has been during the 2021 season.

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