TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Stats Corner: Pirates' Walker swinging smartly, driving pitches with power

Pirates/MLB Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Pirates podcasts

  • Loading...
By David Golebiewski
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 7:37 p.m.
 

Who is the Pirates' premier power hitter? The easy answer is Pedro Alvarez, but Neil Walker has blasted his way into the conversation.

Walker has launched six home runs already, tying Alvarez for the team lead and Minnesota's Brian Dozier for most among major league second basemen.

He's not hitting wall-scrapers, either: Walker is tied with Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Mark Trumbo for the National League lead in “no doubt” home runs, which ESPN Hit Tracker defines as homers that clear the fence by at least 20 vertical feet and land at least 50 feet past the fence.

Walker is showing unprecedented pop thanks to a more enlightened approach. He's swinging at fewer pitches outside of the strike zone (O-Swing) and taking a cut at more offerings thrown over the plate (Z-Swing). By swinging at strikes and laying off junk pitches, Walker has gotten ahead in the count in 39 percent of his plate appearances, well above the 34 percent MLB average.

Finding his pitch

Year O-Swing Z-Swing

2014 27.4 71.4

Career Avg. 31.1 65.8

MLB Avg. 28.8 64.5

Source: Fangraphs.com

If Walker keeps getting the upper hand on pitchers and then punishes them with deep drives, he could make power-hitting history. ZiPS, a projection system on Fangraphs, expects Walker to finish the season with 22 home runs. That would set a single-season record by a Pirates second baseman.

Bill Mazeroski (19 home runs in 1958) is the leader, followed by George Grantham (18 in 1930) and Walker's 16-homer campaign last season.

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates use big 7th inning to sweep Marlins, stretch winning streak
  2. Pirates notebook: Alvarez having success looking the other way
  3. Gameday: Pirates at Padres, May 28, 2015
  4. Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
  5. Pirates notebook: Struggling Polanco held out of starting lineup
  6. Pirates win 5th straight as offense continues to click in win over Marlins
  7. Former pitcher Allie happily adjusting to outfield
  8. Pirates’ prospect Taillon returns to mound following surgery
  9. Pirates pitcher Morton turns in solid performance in win over Marlins
  10. Gameday: Pirates vs. Marlins, May 27, 2015
  11. Pirates pitcher Cole climbing list with each consecutive win