The New York Mets offense has been struggling for most of the season. There have been a plethora of problems that have contributed to this; a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position (the Mets are batting .204 with runners in scoring position, and .170 with runners in scoring position and two outs, both league lows by a wide margin), under-performance of key players and the bevy of injuries to starters. It is difficult to hit when Lucas Duda, David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes, and Asdrubal Cabrera are hurt, and Travis d’Arnaud and, newly demoted, Michael Conforto are struggling.
One bat who saw struggles but overcame them is second baseman Neil Walker.
Neil Walker had an incredible first month with the Mets, hitting .307 with nine home runs and a 155 wRC+. He cooled off a little bit, but fell into quite the cold streak in June, hitting a paltry .214, with just one home run and a 60 wRC+; he, along with the entire offense was struggling.
Walker has since come out of the gate running in the second half of the season. He is hitting .333/.386/.538 since the start of the All-Star Game, with five home runs and a 153 wRC+. He has been as good as he was in April.
Overall, 2016 is shaping up to be one of the best in the 30-year-old second baseman’s career. His 20 home runs are only three behind his career high. His 116 wRC+ and 3.1 WAR are also second highest in his career. His .182 ISO is also second highest in his career.
Despite that horrid month of June, Walker has been what he has been his whole career; a plus hitter from second base, who has power and makes contact (he has a career 8.0 swinging-strike percentage, which is 1.5 below league average).
Walker’s play has seen him become one of the best offensive threats on the Mets. His 116 wRC+ and 20 home runs are both second highest on the team behind Yoenis Cespedes. His WAR is actually the highest, but that is attributed to his defense.
Speaking of defense, that was the biggest knock with Walker coming into the season; he was a better bat than a glove. However, Walker has statistically put in his best season at second base this year. His 8.1 UZR is easily a career high, the second highest being -1.2. Having an 8.1 UZR mean’s he is 8.1 runs better than the average second baseman. His -1 defensive runs saved is also a career high.
Walker is also one of the best hitters at his position, not only on the Mets. Since his debut in 2009, only five second baseman have a higher wRC+ than Walker: Matt Carpenter, Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Jose Altuve, and Dustin Pedroia. His WAR is tenth highest since his debut, as well.
Neil Walker was originally brought in as a one-year stop gap for Dilson Herrera. However, now that Herrera was dealt for Jay Bruce, it brings to question if Walker has a future in Queens. It was reported by the NY Daily News’ Kristie Ackert that the Mets will make an attempt to re-sign Walker after this season, and it would be prudent to do so; finding Neil Walker’s kind of offense from second base is difficult to do.