Entering Wednesday night’s Seattle Mariners matchup with the Texas Rangers, Mariners outfielder Jesse Winker has walked an American League-leading twelve times. Consistently slotted into the third spot of the batting order, Winker’s stellar plate discipline has been a crucial factor in teammates Ty France, Eugenio Suarez, and JP Crawford getting quality pitches to hit in the heart of the order.
After being brought over from the Reds in a late-spring trade, it was hoped that Jesse Winker could replicate his .950 OPS from 2021 in his first year in a Mariners uniform. Doubles and home runs were the primary factors in his stellar OPS last season, but this year, it appears that getting on base via the walk could be a significant driving force in his pursuit towards posting another excellent OPS.
Surprisingly, walks actually weren’t a major part of Winker’s game last season; he walked only 53 times in 485 plate appearances, and didn’t rank in the top 35 in that category among NL hitters. This year, he’s walked in over a fourth of his plate appearances so far.
The bases on balls have been great to see, but Winker will still be expected to produce in a slugging role for the Mariners this season. He’s gotten unlucky on several hard-hit balls in the early part of this season (he’s even been robbed of more than one home run already), so an uptick in his current .158 batting average should be on deck.
Nationals superstar Juan Soto’s 14 walks currently lead Major League Baseball, but if Winker stays consistent in his approach, he could end up challenging 2021’s runaway leader in reaching base via the free pass.