by Ray Kuhn
Until we got to September, Neil Walker’s first season with the Mets was, overall, going pretty well. And this is despite the fact that he was dealing with a herniated disk in the second half of the season. However, you wouldn’t know it by looking at his statistics.
In fact, Walker’s second half of his first season with the Mets was better than the first; even despite the back woes. And after his season ending surgery, Walker appears to be all systems go for his sophomore season in New York.
So, then why is he currently the 20th second baseman being selected in NFBC drafts with an ADP of 246.5?
In 273 at bats in the first half of last season, Walker hit .264 with 15 home runs and 35 RBI while he dealt with a prolonged slump in the early part of the season. Walker then followed that up by hitting .317 in his next 139 at bats with eight home runs and 20 RBI.
On the surface, it’s hard to argue with getting 23 home runs and 55 RBI from your middle infielder, that is what Walker is based on his draft position, but there is actually the potential for more. And based solely on last year’s performance, with just 412 at bats, I would consider Walker a value at his current ADP.
Last season, Walker saw his fly ball rate rise from 37% to 43%, and that came at the expense of ground balls as he maintained a 21% line drive rate. Walker didn’t just put the ball in the air more, but he also got results.
After a previous career high of a 14% home run to fly ball ratio, Walker turned 16% of his fly balls last year into home runs. The power was also believable at worst, and at best leaves open the potential for more. With a 102 Power Index, Walker was just above average but he had an expected Power Index of 136 which illustrates a 30 home run upside for 2017.
The good news for Walker, is that his power explosion didn’t entirely come out of nowhere as he averaged 17 home runs in each of his four prior seasons with a high of 23 and a low of 14. Walker also didn’t sacrifice contact as he maintained his league average 80% contact rate. There was also quality behind Walker’s contact as he had a 116 Hard Contact Rate last season.
We aren’t going to see Walker hit much higher than .270, but he has proven to be, at the worst, a consistent performer over the past five seasons. That, coupled with the potential for upside, makes Walker a middle infielder I will be targeting this spring.
Source – Baseball HQ
*** Order Rotoprofessor’s 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for Just $7.00 By Clicking Here!! Not only will you get all the help you need to dominate your fantasy draft, but you will also be entered to win a Noah Syndergaard autographed baseball, complete with “Thor” inscription! ***
Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|