Neil Walker

Neil Walker is your clutch god


Update: Dejan’s tweet was a joke. My apologies for taking it seriously and using it to make a point. I don’t want to take the post down and I think my point still stands, but I want to make it clear that Mr. Kovacevic does not actually feel the way described below.


At least, that’s the theory being put forth by former Pirates beat guy turned columnist Dejan Kovacevic:


And, yeah, there’s no doubt that Walker has been clutch over the course of his career. Look at his lines:

Bases empty: .247/.301/.365
Runners on: .320/.379/.480
RISP………..: .295/.363/.429
RISP w/2 outs: .257/.340/.396
Bases loaded: .565/.538/.913 (13-for-23, 1 HR)

So, the Pittsburgh media, or Kovacevic at least, celebrates Walker’s clutchness.

But why on earth should we? The idea that Walker steps up his performance for one or two at-bats every night instead of the four he gets? That he can’t be at his absolute best for the entire five to eight minutes he spends in the batter’s box a night, but only the five or 10 at-bats he gets per week in bigger situations?

That would be a failing, not a thing to celebrate.

Because if we accept that Walker is clutch — that his numbers with runners on and the bases loaded are no fluke — then we’re admitting he’s an awful hitter the other 60 percent of the time.

Now, I don’t think any of that is the case. Maybe Walker has some concentration issues that’s led to his splits, but I think it’s more likely that those splits will simply begin to even out with time. I don’t believe that Walker is a lousy hitter who turns into a good one with men on base, nor do I believe that he’s a great one who just doesn’t really try when no one is on. Neither explanation makes much sense to me.

ALDS, Game 1: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups

Toronto Blue Jays' starting pitcher David Price works against the Baltimore Orioles during first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:

CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos

SP Yovani Gallardo

With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.

LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar

SP David Price

After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.

Astros leave Chad Qualls off playoff roster, add Preston Tucker

Chad Qualls Getty
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Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.

Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.

Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.