The hits just keep coming for Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Neil Walker. The Pirates rookie has capped off another month where he has piled up more total hits than the previous month. Surely major league clubs are making adjustments to the switch hitter, but it appears Walker is likewise hanging tough.
In the Pirates postgame on FSN, Walker gave credit to his hitting coach in helping with preparation against pitchers he hasn’t faced before.
“With the help of Donnie Long…it made it a lot easier.”—Neil Walker
For as much grief as the Pirates coaching staff has received, what if Don Long has been a key for the few Pirates players that are hitting well such as Walker, Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen (overall) and Jose Tabata? Walker always struggled from the right side, it was a major question in his call up if you remember. How has that been fixed with a promotion to the majors? He has hit .286 from the right side of the plate.
Everyone cries about not seeing improvement. Just look at Neil Walker for Lords sake. Not a single person in this town had faith in him. Oh wait. Check that. We did. But seriously, did Don Long wave a magic wand on Walker? Or is Walker just listening when others are hitting the mute button?
And perhaps more to the big picture question, who could get some of the other Pirates talent on the ballclub to hit? I’m all out of ideas, wait, maybe Jesus?
Walker has some ugly two strike numbers, as most major league players do. At times Walker seems to get two strikes on him quicker than any player I have watched. It’s an area that Walker certainly will need to improve as his career progresses, but what adjustments does Walker make with a full count?
Walkers’ full count production is insane, the twelve walks certainly help those OPS numbers too. But obviously this type of production should be expected to regress, it would be nearly impossible to continue these gaudy stats.
I bet Don Long has some ideas.
A look inside the overall numbers for the Pittsburgh kid.
In the month of June, Walker had 24 hits for a 286 average and a 783 OPS.
In the month of July, Walker had 29 hits for a 319 average and a 826 OPS.
In the month of August, thanks in large part to a strong finish that has seen him have hits in eight straight games and 11 of his last 12, Walker got 33 hits for a new monthly high. It raised his OPS to .821 on the season.
Walker is just one reason, the team at RumBunter isn’t throwing in the towel on Don Long.
Video from Rob Biertempfel at TribLive