There has long been speculation as to the upside of Christian Walker, though he’s consistently fallen flat while hardly getting an opportunity. After a strong start to the season, hitting .307 with 7 HR and 15 RBI in April, things quickly devolved. Just look at the numbers from May 1 forward:
.248 (106-428), 22 HR, 58 RBI, 70 R, 5 SB
Those stats don’t look quite as impressive, do they? He slashed an underwhelming .248/.341/.444, though he was actually hitting the ball hard continuously (41.0% from May 1 forward, though a 69.1% mark in April). In fact you could argue that there was at least a little bit of poor luck, considering his Hard%, willingness to use the entire field just enough (23.8% Oppo%) and sub par .295 BABIP.
Even his approach appeared to take a significant step forward, after his underwhelming numbers prior to ’19:
- SwStr% – 12.7%
- O-Swing% – 28.2%
Even further supporting a potential improvement is the fact that he hit a mere .247 against fourseam fastballs. Sure he had 12 HR, but is that enough? Just a little bit more luck against the pitch, something that you would think he’d be able to handle, and an improvement in the overall line isn’t an unreasonable expectation.
Of course there’s no guarantee that Walker is handed a job to start 2020. Sure we can poke at the numbers and find some upside, especially with the obvious power that he showed. He still averaged over 4 HR per month over the final five months, and it’s easy to envision him maintaining a 25-30 HR pace.
It all comes down to the average, and if he can hit .260+ over a full season. There are signs that it’s possible, with the Hard%, improved approach and likelihood that he can produce better against fourseam fastballs. That is a lot of ifs, but none of them are unreasonable expectations.
Obviously a lot can change between now and April, but at least monitor him as a potential bench option should he open the year with a job.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball