Neil Walker, 2B
Position: Second Base
Bats: Switch – Throws: Right
Born: Sept. 10, 1985 (32)
2017 Stats: 111 G, 385 AB’s, .265/.362/.439, 59 R, 102 H, 21 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 49 RBI, 55 BB, 77 K
2017 Advanced Stats: 114 wRC+, .346 wOBA, .174 ISO, .297 BABIP
In what turned out to be a steal of a trade, the Mets acquired Neil Walker for lefty Jon Niese in the 2016 offseason. Walker, a Pittsburgh kid, spent the first seven years of his career in a Pirates uniform. In those seven years, he hit .272/.338/.431, with 174 doubles, 93 home runs and 418 runs batted in.
The Mets acquired Walker to replace free agent second baseman Daniel Murphy, who later signed with the Nationals and became a Mets killer. Though Murphy put up bigger numbers in Washington, the team and fans alike have to be happy with the production they received from Neil Walker.
In 2016, Walker hit .282/.347/.476 with nine doubles, a triple, 55 RBI and tied his career high with 23 home runs. Walker hit a career high 15 home runs from the left side of the plate. Nine of Walker’s 23 home runs came in the month of April, which set a Mets franchise monthly record.
One of the Mets biggest weaknesses, hitting against left-handed pitching, was an area the second baseman thrived in. Walker did very well, hitting .330 with eight home runs. However, he was only able to appear in 113 games as he missed the last month and a half of the regular season due to season ending back surgery.
In the 2016 offseason, Walker was set to hit free agency. However, recovering from the surgery, he accepted the Mets $17 million qualifying offer in a “prove it” type deal. Walker started out the season slow by hitting a meager .195/.273/.310 with two home runs and 10 RBI in April. Walker turned things around in May as he hit a stellar .321/.368/.538 with nine doubles, four home runs and drove in 18 runs.
On June 14, Walker caught the injury bug again as he suffered a partially torn left hamstring. He missed a month and a half, but was able to return on July 28. Walker proved he was healthy and boosted his trade value appearing in the final three games in July and 25 games in August.
After he cleared waivers, the Mets traded Walker to the Brewers for a player to be named later (Eric Hanhold) on Aug. 12. Walker played in 38 games with the Brewers and hit .267/.409/.433 with eight doubles, four home runs, and 13 RBI. In 38 games with the Brewers, 12 of his 32 hits were for extra bases.
MLB Trade Rumors predicts Walker’s next contract will be in the range of two-years, $20 million.
They said: “A year ago, Walker chose to accept the hefty $17.2MM salary that came with the Mets’ qualifying offer rather than hit the market with a draft pick cost attached. He then engaged in multiyear extension talks with the Mets, but nothing came to fruition.
“This summer, the second baseman missed over a month with a hamstring injury and was traded to the Brewers in August. Walker continued his career-long run as an above-average hitter in 2017. However, the 32-year-old has averaged 112 games over the last two years and may be hard-pressed to find a three-year deal in free agency. There aren’t a ton of teams seeking a second baseman, with the Angels, Blue Jays, Mets and perhaps Red Sox as possibilities if the Brewers don’t bring Walker back.”
With that being said, if that’s the type of deal Walker is projected to receive, I bet the Mets at least entertain bringing him back.
Although, during the 2017 season the Mets and Walker’s team did have unsuccessful discussions about a long-term extension, the Mets should again consider bringing the veteran second baseman back to be the starting second baseman for the 2018 season and beyond.
Walker is the type of player who plays the game the right way, and you know the production you are going to get from him. His whole career, he has been a .260-.270 hitter with 20-30 doubles and 15-20 home runs. Walker also doesn’t strike out all that much, as he’s only went down via strikes 100+ times in three of his nine big league seasons.