Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Best Second Basemen in Franchise History
By Noah Wright
Number 3 – Neil Walker
Now we finally get to a guy who was a better batter than a fielder. Neil Walker had -22 defensive runs saved with the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is the lowest mark of any Pirates’ second baseman. He also had -8 total zone runs with the Pirates, and a -5.8 UZR/150. His UZR/150 is the second lowest among all Pirates 2B’s. His UZR of -28.8 was the lowest of any 2B between 2010 to 2015. Overall, Walker had a dWAR of only -0.2. Not really great numbers, but why is he number three on this list?
Well, he was kind of an all-bat player.
Waker hit .272/.338/.431 with a 113 OPS+ and 114 wRC+ with 93 home runs. He leads all Pirates in wRC+ who played primarily second base. He also blasted 93 home runs, and his lowest home run total with the Pirates was 12. He also ranked 4th in primary second basemen in all of baseball from 2010 to 2015 in home runs, and 3rd in players who played most of their games at the keystone. Walker hit 173 doubles, and hit 30 or more two times.
The highlight of the Pittsburgh Kid’s career with the Bucs was in 2014. During that season, Walker hit .271/.342/.467 with 21 home runs, 25 doubles, and a 126 OPS+ and 130 wRC+, both of which are his career highs. This all led to the switch hitter winning the National League silver slugger award. From 2010 to 2015, the years he played full seasons with the Pirates, Walker ranked in the top five in home runs, wRC+, and OPS among all second basemen of the time, making him one of the best offensive second basemen of the first half of the 2010s. Even though Walker was poor hitter in the postseason, he still played a huge role in getting the Pirates to the postseason in three consecutive seasons from 2013 – 2015.
Plus, he was one of the most clutch batters the Pirates had in the 2010s. Walker has three of the top 15 seasons in wRC+ from 2010 to 2015 in high leverage situations. Walker is probably the best batter the Pirates ever had to primarily play second base.
Overall, Walker has a solid 15.4 fWAR with the Pittsburgh Pirates. That ranks 5th among all second basemen, passing the aforementioned Stennett and Freddy Sanchez as other notable names who played second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates.