Who’s Been a Bigger Reds Contributor – Puig or Winker?

The Cincinnati Reds made a number of moves over the offseason to bolster their pitching staff and offense in order to make a run at relevance in the NL Central Division. The biggest splash came from the acquisition of OF Yasiel Puig from the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to get some power bats in the outfield, as most of the contributions in the potent 2018 Reds offense were coming from the infield.

Although the Reds currently have the second-ranked pitching staff in Major League Baseball with a 3.44 ERA, the offense has been sorely lacking in the early going thanks to a major injury to INF Scooter Gennett and a slow start by INF Joey Votto, which has caused them to fall into last place in the NL Central with a 16-22 record as of May 10. Cincinnati also ranks 29th in runs scored (131) and 30th in batting average (.211) as of the same date.

While Puig has made news with a home run off his former teammate Clayton Kershaw, the Reds have seen some clutch hits from third-year OF Jesse Winker. So, who has been a bigger contributor so far this year, Winker or Puig? I will not be discussing WAR to make this comparison because I believe it is too early for WAR accrued in a single season to really provide any valuable information.

  • Jesse Winker

Position: Outfielder
Bats/Throws: L/L

Age: 25

Standard Batting (via Baseball Reference)

Career: .285/.379/.473, OPS .852 (OPS+ 124)
2019: .237/.315/.518, OPS .833 (OPS+ 114)

Winker’s AVG and OBP are down from his career numbers, but thanks to a SLG over .500, he still has an above-average OPS.

2019 Counting Stats: 9 HR; 15 RBI; 0 SB; 12 BB

Ratio Batting (via Baseball Reference)

Career Three True Outcomes (TTO – HR, SO, BB):
HR% 3.9; SO% 15.7; BB% 12.7% (MLB averages: 3.2; 22.1; 8.6)

2019 TTO:
HR% 7.1; SO% 18.9; BB% 9.5

Winker is hitting for power much more this year while walking at a higher rate and striking out at a lower rate than the MLB averages for his time as a major-leaguer.

Advanced Batting (via FanGraphs)

2019 Nerd Stats:

ISO .281 BABIP .222 wOBA .347 wRC+ 115

Batted Ball

Career:

Soft%: 12.0 Med%: 45.6 Hard%: 42.4
HR/FB: 16.9

2019:

Soft% 12.2 Med% 45.6 Hard%: 42.4
HR/FB: 33.3

Some information from FanGraphs is shown below as a reference for interpreting wOBA and ISO numbers.

As you can see, Winker is tearing the cover off the ball, with an above-average wOBA, and his above-average wRC+ of 115 shows he has been a good run producer so far this year. When he has hit the ball in the air, it has gone yard a third of the time, which is insane. However, this number will likely come down some as the year goes on given that we are dealing with a small sample size.

  • Yasiel Puig

Position: Right Fielder

Bats/Throws: R/R

Age: 28

Standard Batting (via Baseball Reference)

Career: .275/.348/.472, OPS .820 (OPS+ 123)
2019: .197/.252/.346, OPS .598 (OPS+ 55)

Puig’s overall performance is down this year, resulting in an OPS well below average.

2019 Counting Stats: 5 HR; 17 RBI; 4 SB; 9 BB

The Wild Horse has more RBI and stolen bases than Winker this year but fewer dingers and walks.

Ratio Batting (via Baseball Reference)

Career TTO:
HR% 3.9; SO% 20.0; BB% 9.0 (MLB averages: 2.8; 21.0; 8.1)

2019 TTO:
HR% 3.6; SO% 23.0; BB% 6.5

While Puig is hitting for power at a similar rate to his career average, he is striking out more and walking less so far this year.

Advanced Batting (via FanGraphs)

2019 Nerd Stats:

ISO .150 BABIP .217 wOBA .258 wRC+ 56

As we can see, Puig’s ISO is once again at average levels, after enjoying rates above .225 during his previous two seasons as a Dodger, while his wOBA and wRC+ are at lineup black hole-type levels.

Batted Ball

Career:

Soft%: 19.1 Med%: 46.2 Hard%: 34.6
HR/FB: 16.0%

2019:

Soft% 21.6 Med% 40.2 Hard%: 38.1
HR/FB: 12.2%

Puig has a better hard-hit rate than his career average, but he’s not getting as lucky with fly balls.

Conclusion

Advanced stats show Winker has been a better performer than Puig by far in 2019. Although Winker’s AVG and OBP have been down in 2019, his slugging and ability to strike out less and walk more than the average MLB hitter have allowed him to remain productive. His power rates will likely come down as the season continues, but he should continue to be an exciting player to watch for the Reds as they hope to upset the pecking order of the NL Central.

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