Neil Walker is reportedly signing a one-year deal with the Yankees, one worth about $5 million. This move is pending a physical.
Walker is only 32 years old, though it seems like he is ancient. There is plenty of juice left in the left-handed hitter’s bat, as last year’s first half ISO of .198 can attest. Walker endured a left hamstring strain in June of last year, so his second half ISO of .141 is explainable.
Yankee Stadium’s right field porch is THE prime landing spot for his lefty bat. Walker can start at second base for New York and provide some insurance at first base behind the Greg Bird experiment (Walker played 17 games at first base last year). This move delays Gleyber Torres and relegates hotshot Miguel Andujar to a positional battle with the newly-acquired Brandon Drury. My TGFBI team is rooting for you, Andujar.
At this point in his career, Walker is best suited in the strong side of a platoon. Against right-handed pitchers he has a career slash of .275/.346/.457 with a .182 ISO and .348 wOBA. Shiny!
Against southpaws, Walker’s career slash is an anemic .264/.325/.366 with a .102 ISO and .304 wOBA. So you’ll want to find an alternative for him on days when the Yanks face a tough lefty, and know that he’s a candidate to be pinch-hit for on occasion.
I’ll consider Walker more strongly in leagues with daily transactions, and tread a little more lightly in leagues that lock on Monday. Either way you slice it, though, it’s fair to say that Walker is all of a sudden very relevant at the keystone. Even batting sixth or seventh in that loaded lineup, his counting statistics should be plentiful—especially RBIs.
I say “buy.”
What say you?