I think what made Neil Walker's performance yesterday so gratifying for me is my conviction that he's the most important member of the young core around which the the Pirates are currently building.
That's not to suggest he's the most talented of the Walker/Cutch/Alavarez/Tabata/Sanchez/(Rendon?) group. Just the opposite, more likely. Certainly it would be far more devastating, for instance, if Alvarez turned out to be a bust because so much more is expected of him.
What I'm getting at is that Walker is almost like found money. Yes, he was a first-round pick, but he was taken in an era when the Pirates weren't trying to hit home runs in the draft. Then when he languished in the minors and endured a couple of position changes, many of us all but wrote him off like Danny Moskos. But he's showing signs of being a really good player. Maybe very good.
The only thing better than having Walker succeed at all is the fact that he plays second base -- a position where you don't normally anticipate having a guy with 20-plus home run power, which I think he does. I'm reasonably confident he'll develop into a better-than-average fielder once he gets comfortable out there, too, and he doesn't appear to have the sort of body that will outgrow the position.
All of which, I guess, is my long-winded way of saying Walker is the guy I'm rooting for the most because he's the one from whom most of us expected the least. And if the weakest link turns out to be a real strength, this core group could turn into something really special.