What if Neil Walker stayed healthy?
A promising 42-game run (.348-10-37) was halted on Aug. 15 when a sliding runner landed on Walker's right pinkie. A herniated disc later sapped his mobility and strength, rendering him all but useless for the rest of the season. The seven-homer July lit a spark, reminding us of the latent potential hidden between a mediocre body of work. An injured top hand often corrupts hitting. Was his back an issue at various points in the season?
Pirates manager and frequent batting advisor Clint Hurdle also made an astute observation: Walker generates much less thump from the right side than the left. He will work with hitting coach Jay Bell to extract more from his minority swing.
If the extra help takes and his positive winter health reports hold up, another step in fantasy worth awaits in his age-27 campaign. For the price of a deep-mixed middle infielder, you can test whether Walker's steady across-the-board production will turn into something bigger. Many other selections in that tier don't come close to surpassing their price.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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