Reds' star-studded OF racking up ASG votes

June 14th, 2021

If voting for the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game ended on Monday, Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker would claim two of the starting outfield spots, according to the first balloting update released Monday.

It’s not a surprising revelation considering the Reds’ outfielders have been among the hottest hitters in the Majors throughout the first 10 weeks of the season, but it’s still positive news they take pride in.

“I know it’s something that I would very much so enjoy,” Winker said about playing in the Midsummer Classic. “I’d be lying to you if I said no. We’ve all been 10, 12 years old before saying we want to be in the big league All-Star Game, right?”

Castellanos (568,758 votes) and Winker (462,692) rank behind Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., who leads the entire National League with 834,287. The only other NL outfielder with over 200,000 votes as of Monday’s update was Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (400,202), which means the Reds' duo has a good shot at becoming the first pair of NL outfield teammates to earn fan-elected starting spots since the Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome in 2008.

“We shouldn't be surprised,” Reds manager David Bell said. “They're having fantastic seasons, and I know their goal is not only to get to the All-Star Game, but to continue that throughout the year, be as consistent in every part of the game as they can and do everything they can to help our team win. A lot of times when you take that approach, which both of those guys do, the numbers and the honors -- like even being at the point they are in the All-Star voting -- that kind of just takes care of itself.”

The All-Star ballot will be accessible until the voting period for Phase 1 ends at 4 p.m. ET on June 24. On June 27, the top three vote-getters at each position -- and the top nine outfielders -- in the American League and NL will be revealed, and they will advance to the second phase of voting to determine who starts for the All-Star teams (which runs from June 28-July 1).

While there is still plenty of voting left, Castellanos and Winker have surely established solid individual cases for selection.

Castellanos sits at No. 1 in the NL in average (.361) and No. 2 in OPS (1.051). Meanwhile, Winker leads the NL’s OPS charts (1.056), while coming in just behind Castellanos in average (.344). Castellanos’ 23 doubles entering Monday also have him tied for the Major League lead, and Winker’s 17 home runs put him just four behind Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s 21, despite Winker not hitting a single long ball since his three-homer day in St. Louis on June 6.

“I would say it's fantastic,” Castellanos said. “As far as to discussing Jesse and I's individual performances, I think our relationship and just feeding off of each other and pushing each other -- it's been a lot of fun and I've been privileged to do that with him this season.”

Neither player has made an All-Star Game in their big league careers, so being selected would be quite an accomplishment. However, both players are more interested in how Cincinnati is performing as a whole.

The Reds have won eight of their last 10 games but haven’t been able to make up much ground on the Cubs and the Brewers in the NL Central (those teams are 6-4 and 9-1, respectively, over the same stretch). So though Castellanos and Winker would take being voted All-Star starters as an honor, the more important thing to them is that they continue to help the club win and give Cincinnati fans something to be excited about.

“Something that I'm more focused on is how excited I was in seeing the fans that we were drawing at Great American Ball Park,” Castellanos said. “The energy that we were getting there, sticking through rain delays and things like that, those are the things that I really notice and talk about it with [my wife] Jess when I get home. Because that shows the city is paying attention to how we're playing baseball and the team that we have. I just prefer to keep my focus in that area.”

“You play to win games. That’s what baseball is about,” Winker said. “The All-Star Game is cool, but I can’t wait to see what a playoff series in Cincinnati looks like.”