Last week, we looked at Lucas Duda and determined that he might be a player who is being slightly undervalued by the fantasy baseball community entering the 2016 season. This week, I’d like to put Neil Walker under the microscope. You might be thinking, “Neil Walker? He’s as boring as a Ben Stein lecture. Are you a Mets fanboy or something?” That’s a fair question. Maybe that World Series run caused me to hop on the bandwagon. Or maybe all of the hip hop talk in the comments this offseason has me reminiscing about Rakim talking about his queens from Queens. I’m not really sure.

However, I am sure that Walker is no queen. He might be an actual sleeper this year though, if such a thing even exists anymore. You could even say that he’s a *pinkie to mouth* sleepwalker. Right? Hello? *crickets* Moving on then! So what makes Walker an interesting fantasy option in 2016?

Well, for starters, he’s hit the 2nd most home runs (39) among all MLB second basemen over the last two seasons. He has the 4th highest RBI total (147) at the position as well. His 143 runs scored over that span outpaced Daniel Murphy, Dustin Pedroia, and Starlin Castro in that category. In fact, his average season when combining the 2014-15 campaigns compares somewhat favorably to one of the position’s elite producers, Robinson Cano:

Cano’s average season (’14-’15): 670 PA, 80 R, 18 HR, 80 RBI, 6 SB, .300/.358/.450

Walker’s average season (’14-’15): 587 PA, 72 R, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 3 SB, .270/.335/.446

Walker missed some time due to injury in 2014, but he still managed to outhomer Cano and keep pace with him in terms of counting stats. The only real difference between the two was in the batting average category. Cano is entering his age 33 season and currently has an NFBC ADP of 54.74. Walker is entering his age 30 season and has an ADP of 239.45.

Walker’s greatest asset might be his consistency. He’s produced a batting average of .269 or better in 5 of the last 6 seasons. He’s hit at least 16 homers in each of the last 3 seasons. He’s scored at least 62 runs in each of the last 5 seasons. He’s knocked in at least 66 runs in 5 out of the last 6 seasons, including at least 71 in each of the last two.

When evaluated individually, these numbers aren’t terribly impressive, but when viewed together, it paints the picture of a very solid fantasy option. Think about it this way. If you pair Walker with a player like Delino DeShields, you could get roughly 25 homers, 40 steals, a .265 average, and solid counting stats out of your #4 OF and MI slots without burning a premium pick in the process. It might be a good idea to do some sleepwalking on draft day this year.

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Cano vs. Walker is like generic Vitamin D vs. name brand Vitamin D

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Grey: would that make him Neil Wal-mart?

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Ha, totally

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Grey: Vitamin D is good for you!

  2. J-FOH says:
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    No crickets here. And look at you making hip hop references. Magoo is turning a corner.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      The Corner like Common

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Grey: ooh that’s off the be album with the food. …now I’m hungry

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Me too!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: Not at all. Haven’t listened to hip hop for years. Thinking about the team from Queens made me reminisce about the Juice soundtrack from back in the day though.

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo:in AZ when you are riding shotgun that will change

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @J-FOH: That’s what headphones are for

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Big Magoo: no headphones, I’ll make sure I have a lot of 80’s and 90’s hop on hand and current throwback style. I can make concessions for the magoo

  3. GhostTownSteve says:
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    Classic Magoo player

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @GhostTownSteve: If you mean boring yet productive and undervalued, I definitely like to sprinkle a few of those players into the mix. I choose to ignore anything else that this comment might imply!

      • GhostTownSteve says:
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        @Big Magoo:

        No I pretty much meant boring, productive and undervalued.

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @GhostTownSteve: Haha, thanks. Nobody’s ever excited to draft guys like Walker, but he can be useful.

  4. the swinging says:
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    I thought Grey was more than fair with Walkers projections.

    What do you project him for I didn’t see a stat line in there?

    • the swinging says:
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      @the swinging:

      grey has him for .273 with 18 homers as his 14th best second basemen. I cant find one listed before Walker that id take Walker over.

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @the swinging: Grey’s projection is pretty much spot on, but I don’t think his ranking of Walker reflects the value of that projection. Walker produced a very similar line to that projection last season (69/16/71/4/.269) and finished as the 12th best 2nd baseman according to the player rater.

        This season, depending on your league’s GS requirements for positional eligibility, Carpenter and Duffy might not qualify at 2B. I think that Phillips and Forsythe fall off a bit. LeMahieu too. That’s five players who finished ahead of him last season that I believe won’t do so again this year.

        As far as the rest of the 2B go, I have Odor, Rendon, Wong, and Russell as the new names finishing ahead of him (in addition to the some of the same old names – Altuve, Gordon, Cano, Dozier, Kipnis, and Kinsler), but Schoop, Lawrie, and Castro behind him. As the #11 2B, he makes a solid MI option and is much cheaper than the players in front of him and several who I think will finish below him.

        • J-FOH says:
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          @Big Magoo: good answer good answer *said clapping family feud style *

  5. Dr Sauce says:
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    Hey Magoo,
    Great read; digging the strategy of pairing Walker with a guy like Deshields (cheap 5 cat production when you combine their #’s)
    Keeper question for you …
    Context – Keep any 6 (keep as long as you like), ESPN/5X5/Head to Head/12 Team league/Starting Lineup – 1b,2b,3b,SS,Ca,5 of’s, utility (any position) 5 SP’s and 4 RP’s,
    Situation – League has been around for about 5 years or so. I was lucky enough to win last year and have made some nice trades and pick-ups so I have some tough, but admittedly the other owners in league are somewhat envious.
    Players to choose from – Goldy (1b), Rizzo (1B/utility), K. Bryant (3b/Of), Stanton (Of), Cutch (Of), Betts (Of), Pollock (Of), Scherzer (SP)
    Extra Information – I also have SP’s like G. Cole, Kluber, Syndergaard and Lester but I am assuming given the list above they don’t quite measure up.
    Sorry for the lengthy post … who are your 6? Any and all feedback appreciated.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Dr Sauce: Thanks, Dr Sauce!

      I don’t think that luck had anything to do with your win last year. Those keeper options are crazy! First thing you might want to think about is trading a bat (Cutch or Pollock maybe) and one or two of your SPs for Kershaw if you can make offseason trades.

      Failing that, these would be my picks: Goldy, Rizzo, Bryant, Stanton, Betts, and Syndergaard. Scherzer is awesome, but Syndergaard is too, and he’s eight years younger. I’d give him the edge in an unlimited keeper format.

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