Christian Walker honored for opportunity to reach milestones with D-backs

Jun 16, 2023, 6:30 PM

Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Geraldo Perdomo #2 and Jake McCart...

Christian Walker #53 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with Geraldo Perdomo #2 and Jake McCarthy #31 after hitting a three run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 14, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Phillies won 4-3 in ten innings. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

On Wednesday night, Christian Walker reached a milestone only seven other players in Arizona Diamondbacks history accomplished.

With a critical game-tying three-run homer to left field in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies, Walker made it to 100 home runs as a member of the D-backs.

Walker, 32, played his first games with Arizona in 2017, in the shadow of franchise star Paul Goldschmidt. After the D-backs traded their perennial All-Star, Walker stepped into the role and proved himself much more than a stopgap.

“Goldy, he’s a great player, he deserves everything that he has and he was a great role model when I was here,” Walker told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday. “To be able to get the opportunity to come in behind somebody like that and try to take over the position and learn from him and apply what he did really well, just everything about it was very cool. Fortunate for the opportunity to learn from Paul.”

Walker has played 546 games for the D-backs since he took over as the primary first baseman in 2019. Last year was his best offensively in terms of OPS+ at 126, or 26% better than a replacement-level hitter. He also won his first Gold Glove and is prime position to win another with seven outs above average, which leads the league.

He said he was honored to receive the service time to reach the milestone. Only Luis Gonzalez, Goldschmidt, Steve Finley, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds, David Peralta and Justin Upton hit more than 100 home runs in Arizona.

If Walker finishes this season with at least 35 home runs (he has 13 now and hit 36 last year), he will be top five in franchise history.

This happened after the D-backs claimed Walker off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds, who claimed him off waivers from the Atlanta Braves after the Baltimore Orioles designated him for assignment.

“It’s a funny thing, everybody’s story, everybody’s route to the big leagues is a little bit different,” Walker said. “Some guys get the fast track, some guys get locked up behind some players, some guys just are late bloomers. Everybody’s story is a little bit different.”

Walker, third baseman Evan Longoria and shortstop Nick Ahmed are the only D-backs position players over 30 years old.

He acknowledged the makeup of the current team and 2017 are vastly different, especially with the age groups.

“I try my best to just listen to guys and see what kind of makes them tick, what motivates them, what really gets under their skin,” Walker said. “As a teammate, as somebody who tries my best to be a leader on this team, it’s just little things like that, it’s letting the player know after a tough game they’re still our guy, we still want them out there.”

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