Will Jordan Walker Make A Jump?
Editors Note: Some crazy people in a dynasty league I was in think I pretend to be a “fantasy expert.” I don’t give fantasy advice and barely take my own. This blog is just a way for me to talk about Jordan Walker. Good day.
It is that time of the year when I need to start deciding who I want to keep in my father’s fantasy baseball league. It is a five-keeper league, and I am in quite a conundrum. Here are my top players
Bobby Witt Jr
Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Obviously, some of these guys aren’t even considered. However, I am trying to talk myself into keeping Jordan Walker over one of the first five players listed above. So, this blog will be about Jordan Walker and his 2024 outlook. Now, I might finish this and realize I shouldn’t keep him. Who knows, but you will all be along for the journey with me.
Walker’s 2023 Season
Walker’s 2023 season started with a lot of pop and circumstance as he marched into Busch Stadium with the Budweiser Clydesdales. He is viewed, rightfully so, as the next face of the franchise. At 20 years old, he came out and tied the longest hit streak for a rookie of his age, going twelve straight games with a hit. He wasn’t bringing the electric plays that Elly De La Cruz was, but he was doing his job.
After a month, the team decided to send Walker back down to the minors to refine himself more. At the time, it didn’t make much sense and reflecting back now I still don’t think it was necessary. Here are his stats from MLB and MILB last year.
MLB: .276/ 16 HR/ 51 RBIs/ 7 SB/ .787 OPS
Minor Leagues: .239/ 4 HR/ 16 RBIs/4 SB/ .746 OPS
Typically, when players drop down to the minors after struggling in the bigs, they begin to rake again. Walker is one of the rare exceptions where he was just as blah as he was in the majors to start the year. And when I say “blah” he was really just average. Posting a 114 OPS+ and -0.1 WAR gives credence to that. The WAR is a little misleading as he actually had a 1.6 oWAR, but struggled with a -2.1 dWAR. However, I don’t really care about his dWAR when it comes to fantasy.
Before jumping to his 2024 outlook, I will drop his batting rankings below. Again, it's very average. So, as I am stuck making this decision that at this point is between Vladdy Jr and Walker,
Walker’s 2024 Outlook
Alright, let’s try to stay positive and see what the experts are saying Walker will do in 2024.
567 PA, 22 HR, .341 wOBA, 116 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR
625 PA, 27 HR, .346 wOBA, 2.1 fWAR
The most encouraging aspect here is the increase in HR. Unfortunately, based on Walker’s statistics from 2023, he couldn’t have played in a worse ballpark, according to the “Expected Home Runs By Park.” If we want to get technical, then Fenway Park would be worse than Busch Stadium, but Fenway isn’t last in anything. Now, I don’t know if ZIPS takes that into account, and it seems like the 27 HR might be a stretch.
A lot of Cardinals enthusiasts are also starting to begin a narrative that he will have a 20/20 season this year. Analytically, he ranks in the 81st percentile in sprint speed, which is considered “great,” but it is hard to ignore his seven stolen bases last year against four caught stealing.
No current projection website has him going for more than ten bags. So, don’t expect that 20/20 season to happen.
In conclusion, I think I am going to pass on keeping Jordan Walker this year and stick with Vladdy. Walker had some hot streaks and finished the end of the season strong. It would be dumb for me to say he isn’t going to take a jump this season. However, taking everything into account, I don’t think it will be a significant enough jump to justify keeping him. I hope I am wrong.
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