Pittsburgh Pirates: Best First Round Picks in Franchise History

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DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 24: Neil Walker #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates plays second base during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 24, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Pirates defeated the Rockies 5-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Number Five – Neil Walker

The Pittsburgh Kid, Neil Walker was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round of the 2004 MLB Draft out of Pine Richland High School. Walker was actually selected as a catcher where he spent the first few years of his minor league career at. In 2007, Walker made the transition to third base before making yet another transition to second base.

Although he spent a good amount of time in the minors, mainly because of the three big position changes he made, Walker became a consistent presence in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ line-up. From 2010 to 2015, Walker batted .273/.336/.433 with 93 home runs. Although he was never a big power hitter, Walker still averaged 15-18 home runs and 25-35 doubles a season.

Defensively, Walker was never great at second base, but neither was he a detriment to the team. Throughout his Pirates tenure, the switch hitter had -22 DRS, -5.8 UZR/150, and -3.2 range runs above average at the keystone.

Overall, Walker had a 114 OPS+, 115 wRC+ and 15.8 fWAR. Despite never being that big of a name at second base, Walker’s wRC+ still ranked 5th among all second basemen. He also posted a .337 wOBA which ranked just behind three time all-star Ian Kinsler (.338) and just ahead of Chase Utley who sat at .335.

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