ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks 1B Christian Walker: ‘It’s always a goal’ to become an All-Star

Jul 5, 2024, 1:30 PM

CHRISTIAN WALKER...

D-backs vs. Dodgers on July 3, 2024. (Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)

LOS ANGELES — If Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker was not already a strong All-Star Game candidate, his fireworks show against the Los Angeles Dodgers put him against the top sluggers in MLB.

It is a shame for Walker that the player ballots which determine reserve and pitchers, along with the league office, were already turned in.

Walker finished the Dodgers series 8-for-13 with five home runs in three games. He now sits second in the NL in homers with 22, seventh in OPS at .871, second in slugging at .526 and fourth in RBIs with 62. All while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense yet again.

The veteran said he was able to sit back and appreciate the “once-in-a-lifetime” performance, although he is well versed in the roller coaster that is the baseball season. In that light, making an All-Star team for the first time would be a well-appreciated recognition.

“It’s always a goal, for sure,” Walker said Thursday.

“I think anytime you get recognized, you’re in the conversation, you’re doing something good. My obligation is to the team. My goal is to come in and drive in runs and hit balls hard every day and if that gets me some recognition, that’s cool, but just happy to come out and win.”

D-backs second baseman Ketel Marte already punched his ticket to Texas, set to start and bat first in the All-Star Game. Arizona’s right side of the infield has been pivotal is keeping the ship afloat amid so many injuries and underperformance from several bats.

Marte leads the team with 4.5 bWAR, and Walker is on the next rung down at 2.8, both excelling offensively and with the glove.

“He’s playing at an unbelievable level, he’s playing at an All-Star level,” ace Zac Gallen said of Walker. “I hope Major League Baseball sees that he finds a way to get on the team.”

“I hope he gets very strong consideration,” manager Torey Lovullo, who will lead the NL, said. “We all have votes in this clubhouse. The staff and I voted for him the best way I knew how, and I’m hopeful the rest of the league did and he does get some very strong consideration. I know there’s some injuries at first base, and probably have some decisions to make. I would love to bring him to Texas with us, for sure.”

The All-Star Game reserves and pitchers will be named on Sunday. There will be injury replacements to be made, possibly at first base for Bryce Harper whose status is unclear as he works back from a hamstring strain. The league picks out injury replacements, as it did last year when shortstop Geraldo Perdomo made the squad.

Harper was named the starter at first base, and the position group has plenty of big names. Freddie Freeman of the Dodgers is second to Harper in OPS (.909) among NL first basemen, and Walker is third.

Walker’s potential All-Star ascension would mark a dramatic step in his comeback story, from college star at South Carolina to the MLB Futures Game to getting cut by three teams within a single spring.

He landed with the Diamondbacks off waivers as a backup to Paul Goldschmidt in 2017. Fast forward seven years, Walker is 33 coming off back-to-back 30-homer seasons and one of the best players set to hit free agency.

“We are very fortunate that Christian Walker has been an Arizona Diamondback,” general manager Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Friday.

“It doesn’t take a real hard look to see how good this guy’s gotten, how much better he’s gotten, even in his time here from where he was when we got him on waivers and he was in Triple-A. You look at the defensive improvements, you look at the offensive improvements, the consistency. Everybody knows how tough he is.”

The complete 2024 All-Star Game rosters will be announced Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN, during the Diamondbacks’ game at the San Diego Padres. The Midsummer Classic is set for July 16 at Globe Life Field.

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