NL All-Star Case: Christian Walker Looks Better Than Ever

Joc Pederson of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Christian Walker after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of the MLB game at Chase Field.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 05: Joc Pederson #3 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Christian Walker #53 after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on May 05, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This is not the year the Arizona Diamondbacks had planned for.

General manager Mike Hazen got out his checkbook, and brought back Lourdes Gurriel Jr., signed Joc Pederson, Randal Grichuk, Jordan Montgomery, and Eduardo Rodriguez, and traded for Eugenio Suárez. Given the young talent that was already under team control, the D-backs looked primed to return to the postseason.

Since then, however, injuries have decimated the D-backs starting rotation, Corbin Carroll struggled early, Gabriel Moreno has struggled, Alek Thomas remains on the IL, and Suárez has yet to be the hitter they’d hoped for. Currently, the Snakes are 38-38 and, tenuously, in the hunt for a Wild Card.

But first baseman Christian Walker continues to be one of the best in the game with him and Ketel Marte providing stability to an uneven D-backs offense.

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It’s worth taking a moment to consider just how good the 33-year-old has been.

What Does His Offense Look Like?

It’s good.

In 2022, Walker finished the season worth 4.0 fWAR; in 2023, that number was 3.9. So far in 2024, Walker has accumulated 2.1 fWAR — and that’s in a season that’s not yet half over. In short, he’s on track to surpass his previous numbers.

Walker has a career slashline of .250/.330/.463 with a cumulative wRC+ of 113. So far this season, he’s slashing .258/.334/.484 with a 130 wRC+. He’s also hit 17 home runs. (In 2022, he hit 36 and in 2023, 33.) Across the board, he’s having a better season so far.

Morevoer, Walker continues to be a patient hitter (9.9 BB%).

A combination of slugging and patience for a first baseman is an excellent combination.

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On the D-backs, only Ketel Marte is having a better offensive season.

In addition, Walker has continued to stay healthy, which is especially valuable on a D-backs team that has suffered significant injuries. Walker has appeared in 74 games with 318 plate appearances. (Only Marte has more.)

The D-backs’ future remains uncertain, but Christian Walker has been a steadying presence on a team reeling with the instability of injuries.

How’s the defense?


He’s already accumulated six DRS, seven OAA, and has an FRV of five.

On the D-backs, again, only Marte has better numbers: 12 DRS, and his 3.1 UZR, surpasses all other D-backs with at least 300 innings of defensive play.

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Look, he’s not a two-time Gold Glove winner for nothing. Walker’s defensive game has never been better, and he’s on track for his third Gold Glove.

So, How Does He Compare to Other First Basemen?

He’s good.

Among all third basemen, his 2.1 fWAR ranks him third, behind Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman. (That’s some elite company.) He’s third in home runs behind Harper and Josh Naylor and tied with Pete Alonso. His wRC+ puts him sixth among all first basemen.

But he’s also effective defensively, which is not something all first basemen can say. His six DRS lead all MLB first basemen. Those in second place — and there are five of them — have three. So not only is Walker better by this metric, he is substantially better. Similarly, his seven OAA lead all first basemen, and he and Bryce Harper are tied in terms of FRV (5).

In other words, Christian is in the conversation for being the best all-around first baseman in baseball right now.

How’s Walker’s “Nerd Factor?”

Off the charts. Check this out:

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Look, the man loves to talk about hitting.

Closing Thoughts

Although it probably won’t happen — because Bryce Harper, Freddie Freeman, and Pete Alonso exist — Christian Walker should be an All-Star.

He’s also got to be generating some conversation in the Arizona Diamondbacks front office given that he will become a free agent at the end of the season. Will the D-backs attempt to bring him back as they did Lourdes Gurriel Jr.?

We probably won’t know until the offseason though experts project Walker will earn a healthy payday.

Stay tuned.