D-backs’ Christian Walker starting to rack up hits: ‘It’s about trusting myself’

May 11, 2022, 12:42 PM | Updated: 12:52 pm
Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals...
Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker has been one of the hardest hitters in Major League Baseball this season in the most literal terms.

He is walloping the ball with an average exit velocity of 92 miles per hour, which is 26th in the league, according to Statcast.

His 12% barrels per plate appearance average is sixth in MLB, while the top three players in order are the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout and the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton.

Yet, Walker is batting below the Mendoza Line at.192.

While he struck the ball hard in April, the hits were just not coming. He had to have faith in the work he was putting in.

“For me, it’s about just trusting myself, trusting what I’m doing,” Walker said Wednesday. “People say trust the process, but for me, it’s like, ‘What does that really mean?’ It’s like doing the same work, having the same mindset, not getting frustrated with the results.”

The month of May has been much kinder to Walker, who is batting .310 with an OPS of 1.067 in nine games. He has multiple hits in four of his last seven contests, including the team’s two straight wins over the Miami Marlins on Monday and Tuesday.

D-backs hitting coach Joe Mather said Saturday that he did not see anything Walker was doing that needed any stark changes early on. His message was for the veteran first baseman to keep going.

“There’s guys some seasons, they’re falling all the time,” Mather said. “There’s guys where they’re not falling. And that’s just the nature of our sport as much as we try and minimize that and take that out of the game, it will never leave. There’s no point in fighting it, just hit it hard. That’s as much as we can do.”

Walker said he looks at the peripheral numbers like batted balls to see what he’s doing well and can improve upon, along with reinforcement that he is doing what he can.

He looks for trends in his game that he can work on. The righty noted that his chase rates and swing-and-miss in the zone numbers are down while his walk percentage is up.

His strikeout rate is 21.4%, a career-low aside from the 60-game 2020 campaign. Meanwhile, his walk percentage is 11.1%, the best it has been since 2019.

“As far as like trusting the process goes, that’s what it is,” Walker said. “It’s digging in deeper and seeing maybe if there’s any other trends or if there’s anything else telling by the numbers that can help me be a better hitter or make adjustments somewhere.”

Average batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is around .300, according to MLB.

Walker’s is at .192, a sign that more of his batted balls are statistically likely to find holes.

He has, though, hit a lot of hard ground balls and struggled against the shift this season, another catalyst in his low traditional batting numbers aside from poor fortune.

The D-backs can sweep the Marlins with a win on Wednesday. Walker will start at first base and bat fourth against Miami starter Sandy Alcantara.

Catch D-backs-Marlins now on ESPN 620 AM or 98.7 FM HD-2.

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