February 27, 2011

2011 Position Preview: Second Base

Neil Walker was the Pirates' most pleasant surprise of 2010. Written off as a failed prospect, Walker had never really proven he could hit even AAA pitching. Last year he not only hit big league pitching but, just as impressively, learned second base at the major league level after Akinori Iwamura proved to be a bust.

Last year, Walker played in all 110 Pirates games he was available for, starting 104. He'll play every day again, which is a good thing if he can repeat or improve upon his 2010 performance, which earned him fifth place in Rookie of the Year voting.

2010: 110 Games, .296/.349/.462, 57 Runs, 12 HR, 66 RBI, 2 SB

This will be a telling year for Neil Walker as we see whether 2010 was a breakout season or simply a career year. He's 25 so of course there's room for improvement, but I think most fans would be happy with the same performance again at the plate. Not many teams have a second baseman who can hit 44 extra base hits in 110 games.

This year Walker should improve on his defense, which was respectable but below average in his first full season at second base. I also would like to see him run more on the bases - he has good speed and stole 10 bases through late May at Indianapolis, then swiped only two for the Pirates. On offense I'd be happy with a bit more plate discipline even with a slight falloff in extra base hits.

In 2011 I am looking for Walker to prove 2010 wasn't a fluke and cement his status as an above average everyday middle infielder. I'm also anticipating an injury of two weeks to a month, so I'd be happy with .280/.345/.440, 75 Runs, 14 HR, 70 RBI, and 7 steals.

No comments:

Post a Comment