By now we all know Christian Walker’s story. He was an Oriole. Then he was a Red and immediately a Diamondback. He’d been blocked by two Hall of Famer 1B in Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt. Then Arizona did the unthinkable and traded Goldschmidt away, leaving a gaping hole for some guy with less than 100 total MLB plate appearances to replace... Oh god. Five seasons later and:
- Rating: 7.89 out of 10
- 2023 MLB Stats: .258/.333/.497, 33 HR, 103 RBI, 62 BB, 127 K, 661 PA (582 AB) in 157 Games
- Date of Birth: March 28, 1991 (32)
- 2023 Salary: $6,500,000
- 2024 Status: Controlled via arbitration through 2024 (estimated salary of $12,278,868)
While there is nothing wrong with being a Top-10 rated guy out of 56, I was surprised that Walker came in at #10 at first glance. I instantly assumed some voters took his poor hitting ability with runners in scoring position and his postseason performance too heavily. But looking at who ends up ahead of him, I believe only one player is undeserving and even then it’s not horrible, just recency bias.
In 2023, Walker could be called Old Reliable. He once again hit more than 30 home runs and played nearly every game of the year. He boosted his RBI total from 2022 and hit for better average, on base percentage and slugging. He also made use of the new baserunning rules to steal a career high 11 bases! He was a deserving mainstay in the middle of Torey’s lineup card. His defense was either largely the same or took a steep fall off depending on your metric of choice, but it remained good enough to earn him a second consecutive Gold Glove (a feat not even Goldschmidt accomplished). At least until the World Series at least, where Walker made an error many Arizona baseball fans will not forget for a long time...
Despite this, Walker had nothing short of a highly successful season. On the field he was a bulwark that young and old alike could throw to with confidence. In the box he was a feared hitter who stood ready to help the youth work out their legs. On the bases he loomed large as a muscle-heavy threat to take the extra base when you let your guard down. In the clubhouse he continued to play the role of leader and is know as the father of the chess club that is so often referenced by beat reporters. The culture of play Arizona now has doesn’t leave much room for Walker, but he plays an important role nonetheless. And more than anyone not named David Peralta, Christian Walker may embody the best parts of Arizona baseball for fans who suffered through the worst seasons.
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