There are very few players right now on the Pittsburgh Pirates who have been through it all during the team’s resurgence. One of those players is second baseman Neil Walker. Walker came up in 2009 and has improved each of the last three seasons for Pittsburgh and will now be expected to contribute even more for the team as the Pirates try to get back to the playoffs.
Walker hit a career-high 14 homeruns in 2012. He spent a lot of time hitting in the middle of the Pittsburgh lineup. I would think Walker may move either to the No. 2 spot in the order or down to No. 6 or 7 this season with the additions that the team has made. Walker will have to hit closer to .300 wherever he is in the lineup and knock in the multiple runners that should be on base when he gets to the plate. Walker is still young at age 27, but should be hitting his prime and I think that this will be the best year of his young career.
I believe Walker will finish with 15-20 homeruns and 80-85 RBIs while hitting around .290. If Walker can play that well and Pittsburgh can avoid their yearly second-half fade, the Pirates could find themselves staring right at a playoff spot in the final month of the season. Walker has grown into one of the best second basemen in all of Major League Baseball and will continue improving in an exciting Pittsburgh lineup. This could be the year that Walker really breaks out for the Pirates.