Neil Walker Is Smoking Hot

Pirates rookie Neil Walker homered again, his fourth in the past five games.  He went three-for-five against the Cubs yesterday, but it wasn’t enough as the Pirates lost.  Walker was stranded by his teammates twice while in scoring position as the Bucs simply couldn’t get a timely hit to get back in the game.
Walker has a nine game hitting streak that has seen him go 17-for-40.  Walker has scored nine times during the streak.  He has four doubles, two triples and the four home runs to go with 14 RBI.  He has walked just once during the streak and has a walk percentage of 5.6 for the season (ML average is 8.5.)  His BABIP is at .366 while the major league average is .298. 
Everyone is waiting for the slump.  The numbers have to regress.  But when?  Walker just keeps on drilling baseballs.  How can it be explained? 
Remember last week when we wrote one of the basics of The Ripken way was Keep It simple?  Cal Ripken, Sr. wanted his players to forget everything going on around them and simply hit.  Billy Ripken described his Dad’s philosphy like this:
“See the ball, hit the ball”–Cal Ripken, Sr.
If you check out Dejan’s work at PG+ he has a quote from Neil Walker after the game that is 100% Ripken.  Since Walker has said he would like to be the Cal Ripken of Pittsburgh, we thought you would enjoy it:

“I’m just trying to hit the ball hard and hoping it falls where no one’s standing. I’ve just been trying to step in the box, see the ball, trust my hands and use the whole field. I’m not worried about where to hit it, what else is going on.”—Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

We have repeatedly mentioned that one of the reasons we loved Neil Walker coming into the season was just how hungry he was to be in the big leagues.  His voice exhibited that fact, his facial expressions, hell, everything about the conversation was focused on MLB. 

The other thing we enjoyed was how humble he was.  It came up again yesterday. 

 “I certainly wasn’t trying to hit those balls out. My line-drive approach, once in a while, you’ll catch some balls up front or up in the zone that you can hit out of the ballpark. We weren’t playing at PNC Park, either. A couple of these balls wouldn’t have gotten out at home. But I’ll take them here.”  Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

Here’s hoping Walker’s hit numbers grow one last time in the month of September.  The numbers say it will be a challenge, but Walker has done it all season.  He seems relaxed and comfortable at the plate.  A natural.  If he can feast on some Nationals pitching this weekend at PNC could he have a swinging chance at getting a few ROY votes?

We can’t think of a player that deserves it more.  


John Bowker was recalled from AAA prior to the game yesterday. 

Tags: Cal Ripken Neil Walker Pirates Blog Pittsburgh Pirates The Ripken Way

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