However, that walk rate has crashed back toward his career mark upon his arrival in Pittsburgh. It currently sits at 5.7%. Connecting the dots, we see that Walker’s offense is being driven by an unsustainably high batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .366. Using this Expected BABIP (xBABIP) calculator, we find that his xBABIP is just .310. When the actual number inevitably regresses down to that expected level, Walker’s overall stats are going to take a serious hit.
Of course, Walker proceeded to make me look very stupid in August. His numbers, buoyed by a .361 BABIP, actually improved over the course of the month despite a 5.9% walk rate. I predicted regression, and Walker just kept hitting.
His BABIP finally fell off a cliff in September, and his overall batting average dropped along with it. However, his overall production remained above average, thanks to dramatic improvements in his walk and strikeout rates. By walking in 11.4% of his final 132 plate appearances, Walker finished the season with a 7.2% walk rate. That is still a bit below average, but it is high enough to keep Walker afloat during any stretches of misfortune on balls in play.
I finished my original article with the following sentence:
Quite simply, if he does not improve his patience and begin taking some more walks, Walker will not continue having success at the plate.
Well, Walker did begin drawing more walks. As a result, he continued contributing to the Pirates offense despite a falling average.