Cardinals rookie shortstop Masyn Winn is breaking all of the rules. He isn’t a member of the Statcast cult. He isn’t addicted to the launch angle. He isn’t a programmed robot that walks around chanting “Must Hit Ball Far.” He’s an intelligent, impressively mature and focused 22-year old man. He thinks for himself and takes a pleasingly pragmatic approach to hitting.

Winn is basically oblivious to pressure because he doesn’t seem to feel any. He excels at hitting with two-strike counts. He isn’t a pull hitter, he isn’t a straightaway hitter, he isn’t an opposite hitter. He hits to all fields with nearly equal distribution. Go ahead and shift your defense; Winn will handle it just fine no matter what you do.

Winn doesn’t give away at-bats. His low strikeout rate of 15.7 percent ranks among the top 15 percent of major-league hitters. He doesn’t swing and whiff all that much, ranking among the top nine percent of hitters at only 15.8 percent. He jumps on strikes, making contact on 91 percent of his swings.

You want the high average velocity rate? The shiny barrel rate? Are you hepped on lightning-quick bat speed as relayed by Statcast? Well, Masyn Blaze Winn … ISN’T your guy. He just consistently makes contact, puts the ball in play, and defies  defensive alignments.

Winn doesn’t swing for the fences. He swings to get base hits and avoid making outs. Instead of trying to jerk a pull-shot fly ball on low pitches placed on the outside part of the plate, he’ll take it to the opposite field for singles.

Winn has a clear head on this … because again, he is not locked into the one-dimensional groupthink mindset that turns so many hitters into cyborgs.

Why would Winn want to lunge for an outside pitch in an attempt to pull it for a home run when it’s the dumbest possible thing to do? Nah, he’s smarter than that. Much smarter. He’ll gladly take the single to cash in a run or keep the line moving.

We have to point out something else here. When Winn sees a pitch that he can drive, watch out. He goes driving. That’s when it is time to launch. His launch-angle sweet spot rate, 41.7 percent, is the 11th best among major-league hitters. I’ll translate the gibberish: when Winn gets a pitch he can muscle, he does very well at blasting that pitch. And that shows — again — that Winn has adaptable strategy that he adjusts based on the situation.

Among hitters with at least 150 plate appearances this season, Winn ranks second in the majors with a 32.6 percent line drive rate. He hits more line drives than Luis Arraez, Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper and a notebook filled with so many other names. When Winn hits a line drive his batting average is .571 and his slugging percentage is .762.

Don’t downgrade Winn’s power capability – not when he’s slugging .440 this season, a rate that’s 53 points higher than the league-wide .387 slug for 2024. For much of the season I’ve been saying stuff like “Winn’s power will come.” Which was kind of silly because his power was already coming.

Winn is slugging .475 in May. He’s slugging .559 during his current 18-game hitting streak, with nine of his 25 hits going for doubles or homers. And of course he hits for average, leading all MLB rookies with a .308 batting average. Among hitters age 22 or younger, Winn ranks first in batting average and onbase percentage (.358), is third in slugging, and No. 1 with a .798 OPS.

Late last season, in the second month of first exposure to MLB pitching, Winn drew a bunch of walks … just because he could. His walk rate in 2024 (8%), isn’t anything special, and he’s probably been chasing a few too many pitches lately. But I predict more walks will come because Winn knows what he’s doing up there. He’ll know when it’s time.

Winn’s chase rate is 37 percent during his 18-game hit streak. That’s too high. (And more on that later.) But are we really going to nitpick a dude that’s hit .368 with a miniscule 8.3 percent strikeout rate in those 18 games? He has more extra-base hits than strikeouts since the streak began on May 5. And we’re going to look for negatives? Please.

Let’s go through some of my favorite things about Masyn Winn’s unusual but highly enjoyable hitting profile.

Two-strike hitting: No, Winn won’t give in. Don’t think you have him cornered. Pitchers, you’re in for a fight. Among MLB hitters that have at least 90 plate appearances that reach two-strike counts, Winn leads all 138 of them with a two-strike batting average of .315. That’s really preposterous considering the overall MLB average on two-strike counts this season is .172. In addition to hitting .315 on two-strike counts, Winn has four doubles, two triples, two homers and a .467 slug. Goodness. When Winn is down 0-2 or 1-2 in the count, he’s batting .394. This. Is. Crazy.

The RH hitting Winn hits baseballs to all areas. This is beautiful stuff. The late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn would approve. I’m happy to lay it out to you, and these numbers were processed through the Statcast search engine …

40 pitches pulled to left field for a .421 batting average and .727 slug.

46 pitches hit straight away for a .378 average and .444 slug.

50 pitches hit to the opposite field for a .333 average and .458 slug.

Forget the platoon split disadvantage: Winn has a .271 average and .803 OPS vs. lefties, and a .330 average and .795 OPS vs. righties. But wait, he’s a right-handed batter. He isn’t supposed to beat up on RH pitchers like this. Well, we warned you. Don’t tell Masyn Winn what he can or cannot do.

Home, road, whatever: Winn has a .282 average with a .796 OPS at Busch Stadium. On the road he’s hitting .333 with a .799 OPS. Three-point difference in OPS.

Name your pitch. He’ll hit it. OK, I should start out by acknowledging that Winn is only batting .222 vs. changeups and .222 against curves. But relatively speaking, he doesn’t see many of those little critters. As for the other offerings: Winn is hitting .279 on four-seam fastballs, .290 on sliders, .433 on sinkers and .400 on sweepers. He’s slugging .600 on sinkers and .900 on sweepers. And this is in a season when hurlers are overwhelming hitters with that evil sweeper pitch.

Starting pitchers, relievers, doesn’t matter. Winn is batting .308 vs. starters this season and .309 against the bullpen guys. How’s that for consistency?

About that chase rate … earlier in this piece I mentioned how Winn probably chases too many pitches out of the strike zone. That’s generally frowned upon. But in continuing with the theme being presented here, Winn is different. This season Winn is 6 for 16 (.375) with a .625 slugging percentage when he connects on pitches out of the strike zone. Sure, his whiff-swing rate is on the high side (35%) but he’s only struck out five times on out of zone chases. When Winn chases a pitch and puts the ball in play, he’s 6 for 11 (.545) with a .909 slugging rate. Any questions?

The ability to improve:  Winn hit .182 with runners in scoring position during the first month of the season, but there wasn’t a reason to fret over that. Winn has improved to a .262 average with runners in scoring position in May. And his 18-game hitting streak includes a .300 average with RISP. Overall he’s been a better hitter in May than he was in March-April. And he was darn good in the first month.

Winn leads Cardinals position players this season with 2.3 Wins Above Replacement. (That’s the Baseball Reference version of WAR.) His 129 OPS+ is 29 percent above league average and second to Willson Contreras among Cardinals. His .308 batting average is the best on the team. He’s tied for the team lead in runs created, ranks second in OBP, and is third in slugging. Did I tell you that he’s 22 years old?

Most stolen bases on the team, check. STL’s leader in defensive runs saved, check. Small-ball skills such as sac flies, sac bunts, and moving up on the basepaths — check. He does all of that too.

He’s Masyn Winn. And that’s a winner.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream live or access the podcast on 590thefan.com or the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.