Christian Walker Proving Age Doesn't Matter, Having All-Star Season

The Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman is having an All-Star season at age 33 and there are many reasons why he deserves to be at the Mid-Summer Classic in July.
Jun 13, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first base Christian Walker (53) hits a three run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks first base Christian Walker (53) hits a three run home run against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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Christian Walker is having an All-Star-caliber season at first base for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Walker is bidding for his first All-Star selection, and there's a huge argument as to why he should get it this year.

He's setting a high standard for first basemen across the league with his power, clutch hitting, and defense. He's not your average 33-year-old.

Walker's hit three homers over his past two games, including two monster shots. The three homers combined for over 1,300 feet. During yesterday's game, he launched a rocket that went 464 feet, the furthest any ball has been hit in Chase Field this year.

"That might be all I've got. I maxed out for sure," Walker said when asked if he could hit a ball deeper.

When you watch Walker swing or take batting practice, you can tell that he's worked on it for years and that it's a gorgeous swing. Having seen thousands of swings, Walker's is easily one of the best. Manager Torey Lovullo agrees.

"Just a pure swing. He's got a beautiful swing. Great approach. Everything was timed and synced up really well. Just long loud home runs...It's just a pure swing. If I was going to teach somebody to swing, I would tell them to watch Christian Walker. It's just a really nice simple approach. There's a high level of intensity, there's a high level of intelligence per at-bat."

So far, over 69 games and 296 plate appearances, Walker is hitting .258/.341/.480/.822 with a 135 OPS+. His wRC+ is 132, league average is 100. He has 12 doubles, 15 homers, 46 RBI, two stolen bases, 32 walks, and 76 strikeouts.

He's tied for 11th in MLB in homers and tied for second among first basemen. When you go to his Savant page, it's littered in red, indicating that his results match the underlying advanced stats.

In fact, one could say he's been unlucky, considering his WOBA is .356 and his xWOBA is .371. He's on pace for 28 doubles, 35 homers, and 108 RBI. This would be the second season in a row that he's reached 30/100 if he maintains this pace.

He's already been worth 2.1 Baseball Reference WAR. He has been worth five runs on defense according to Statcast. He leads all MLB first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved, which he has totaled six of and is well on path to another Gold Glove.

Lovullo is positive that Walker is the best defensive first baseman in the NL, if not MLB, "defensively, you see what he does. He's a run-saver out there. He's clearly ahead of the rest of the first basemen in the National League."

He's been one of the Arizona Diamondbacks' best clutch hitters. With RISP, Walker has a .900 OPS and 37 RBI to go with 21 hits. With two outs and RISP, his OPS is still a strong .772. Meanwhile, in high leverage situations, he has a .796 OPS.

Walker has been working on improving his swing against fastballs. Over the past couple of seasons, his batting average on fastballs, especially those over 95, has been going downward. Walker noticed that and yesterday, he hit a homer off a 95 mph fastball.

"I'm still working on handling fastballs better. I feel like I've been missing fastballs straight back a little bit. It's been bothering me so the priority the last few days was getting to work on getting back to the heater so it was nice to see that show up"

Walker is deserving to be an All-Star this season. While it's hard to say that he has been better than Freddie Freeman or Bryce Harper, Walker is easily the third-best first baseman in the NL. Matt Olson is having a rough season. Paul Goldschmidt slumped for two months. And while Pete Alonso is hitting homers, he has a .233 batting average and his defense leaves a ton to be desired.

Harper and Freeman both have been worth 2.5 WAR so far. Walker's 2.1 isn't far behind. Alonso's WAR has been worth just 0.9. Olson's WAR is 1.5. Goldschmidt's WAR is 0.4. MLB would be making a vast mistake if they do not put Walker on the National League All-Star team.

Walker deserves to be an All-Star not just due to what he does in games, but because he's one of the hardest workers in baseball. Much has been said about how he was stuck behind elite first basemen for years before finally getting his shot in 2019, but not much has been written about how intense a worker he is.

"Just a late bloomer." Lovullo said. "Sometimes there's players who just need a little bit more time to get ready and understand who they are and what they are. He's a student of the game. He's always had a real good swing"

"He was in three different organizations within a matter of three weeks and he ended up in ours and having a great 17'and very solid 18' and nothing was given to him so that's what stands out to me about him."

Lovullo continued, "He worked for everything that he did and there are times where you feel like you're getting pushed aside. It didn't bother him. He just kept working...he wasn't handed a job in 19'. I think he had to go out and win it and he did and he's been very impressive and growing ever since."

"He was always working on something every single day...I would say he has the mindset that he's a 33-year-old rookie and continuing to fill up his tank with knowledge and trying to get better every single day."

If you're a Diamondbacks fan, be sure to vote for Christian Walker, along with Ketel Marte and others.

Now, with such a terrific season on top of the previous two, Walker is setting himself up for a strong free agency. Nick Piecoro wrote in Spring Training how Walker was interested in exploring free agency and that the "ball is in our court."

It could be difficult to bring him back, as a multi year deal in excess of $60 million guaranteed is one potential estimate. According to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, the D-backs have yet to present him with an extension offer.

GM Mike Hazen, Owner Ken Kendrick, and company may be willing to meet that price tag in free agency. They signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr. last offseason to a 3 yr/ $42 million contract, so there is precedent. He will be entering his age-34 season next year, but his skillset should age well. However, be sure to enjoy Walker in a D-backs uniform as there's no guarantee he will be in one next year.


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Jake Oliver

JAKE OLIVER

Jake Oliver is a Baseball Reporter for Inside the Diamondbacks, part of the Sports Illustrated Network. His passion is statistics along with all things MLB. Jake used to be the site expert for Venom Strikes. Be sure to follow him for Diamondbacks updates, Dbacks breaking news, Star Wars love, and more on Twitter @DarthDbacks.