Neil Walker "Thriving"!

So says Pirates.com:

It's near unanimous by those who have had their eye on Walker, who is in his first full year at Triple-A, that he is playing third base at a level well exceeding his experience there...

With 15 errors in 96 games for Indianapolis, Walker is down seven from where he was a year ago with Double-A Altoona. Improvements have been noted in various other areas as well...

 

It's evidenced by the stability in his offensive numbers. His average has dipped considerably this season, primarily due to having to adjust to Triple-A pitching. He is hitting just .235 to date. But the second-half offensive drop off that he had last year hasn't been there. He's actually hit .323 in the week since the All-Star break.

And despite a down average, Walker's production has actually been just fine. He leads the Indians with 14 homers and 55 RBIs.

 

Normally I try to stay away from articles at Pirates.com, which are bound to be stupid for all kinds of semi-excusable reasons, but still, this one's got me scratching my head. What's the demographic for this article? People Who Are Knowledgeable Enough To Care About Prospects But Too Dumb To See Through Arbitrary Endpoints And Dubious Statistics? There are definitely folks who fit into that category, but not a huge number. Walker's Pine Richland Friends? Probably.

Either way, I'm sure the Pirates' marketing department has focus-grouped these people out the yin-yang, and found that what these folks really want is a wince-inducing puff piece about a guy who has a .273 OBP this year. Is it too early to call Walker's season a disaster? No, I don't think it is. 

Question: if Walker had a "second-half offensive drop off" this year, what could that possibly look like? He has a .652 OPS in July. For most players, that would be a pretty serious drop-off. But it's just a tick below Walker's overall .708 OPS. The article mentions the fact that the Pirates drafted Pedro Alvarez, who plays Walker's position, but Alvarez shouldn't even be on Walker's radar right now. He's got enough on his plate just worrying about how to get to the majors. He'll probably need a month or two at Class AAA in 2009, even in a best-case scenario.

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