Winker trying to become Reds’ first batting champ since 1973

Reds have lost two straight games despite back-to-back multi-hit performances by Winker

Not since Pete Rose 48 years ago has a Cincinnati Reds batter led the National League in batting average. Eleven other franchises have had the league’s top hitter in the last five decades.

Jesse Winker has a long way to go but owns the league’s best batting average one fifth of the way through the 2021 season. He’s hitting .350 in 34 games (48-for-137).

“I just want to help the team win ballgames,” Winker said earlier this month. “Everything’s out of your control after you hit the ball. I just try to hit the ball hard and be a tough at bat and make a winning play if the opportunity presents itself. I want to come in and get better every day. I really don’t pay much attention to statistics. It’s a long year. I just want to help the team win. The only thing that matters is helping the team win and winning games and getting back to the postseason.”

Rose hit .338 in 1973 and won his third batting title in six years. He hit .348 in 1969 and .335 in 1968.

Cy Seymour owns the Reds batting average record. He hit .377 in 1905. Rose was the last Red to hit better than .340. The last Red to hit better than .330 was Hal Morris (.335) in 1994.

Winker is a career .289 hitter who hit a career-best .299 in 89 games in 2018, his second season.

The Reds collected 18 hits and five runs in losses to the San Francisco Giants on Monday and Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. Winker had two hits in each game. He has 16 multi-hit games.

“He continues to play with confidence,” manager David Bell said earlier this season. “He’s on everything. It’s fun to watch him in the moment like that, in the zone. There’s no situation he isn’t prepared for. He continues to get big hits.”

Winker has competition in the batting race from the same clubhouse. Nick Castellanos ranks second in the league with a .338 average (49-for-145).

Winker and Castellanos have been two bright spots for a team that fell to 19-21 with a 4-2 loss Tuesday and has not been over .500 since April 21 (9-8).

“He’s hitting the ball to all parts of the field,” Winker said Tuesday of Castellanos. “He’s hitting every kind of pitch. He’s driving the ball. I feel ever time we have a game he’s on base two or three times. It’s really cool to watch. I just try to get on in front of him.”

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