Adam Walker Will Look Familiar to Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Brewers claimed outfielder Adam Brett Walker off waivers today from Minnesota. Walker, who just turned 25, was originally selected in the third round of the 2012 draft out of Jacksonville University.

Here’s a distillation of roughly all his virtues as a ballplayer:

As a professional, Walker has recorded 124 home runs in 2,449 plate appearances — including 27 homers this past season in 531 plate appearances for Triple-A Rochester. He has considerable power. Indeed, by at least one measurement, he has nearly the most power. Because, consider: his home-run figures are also accompanied by a number of walks and an even greater number of strikeouts. All told, roughly 45% of all Walker’s plate appearances this year produced one of those two outcomes. That’s an unusually high figure. Which means that Walker was left with relatively few opportunities with which to actually hit those home runs.

Here’s a table featuring Walker’s rate of home runs per batted ball at every professional level:

Adam Walker, Home-Run Rate, 2012-16
Season Level PA K% Batted HR HR%
2012 Rookie 252 30.2% 156 14 9.0%
2013 A 552 20.8% 393 27 6.9%
2014 A+ 554 28.2% 349 25 7.2%
2015 AA 560 34.8% 307 31 10.1%
2016 AAA 531 38.0% 276 27 9.8%
Total 2449 30.4% 1481 124 8.4%
Batted denotes at-bats minus strikeouts, or all batted balls.
HR% denotes home runs as a percentage of Batted.

It’s not so common to discuss homers this way — that is, as a function of batted balls — so the reader might not have a great sense of what constitutes a strong showing by this measure. For the sake of comparison, here’s the entire collection of qualified major-league hitters in 2016 who recorded a higher mark than Walker’s career figure:

Top MLB Home-Run Rates, 2016
# Name PA K% Batted HR HR%
1 Chris Carter 644 32.0% 343 41 12.0%
2 Chris Davis 665 32.9% 347 38 11.0%
3 Khris Davis 610 27.2% 389 42 10.8%
4 Mark Trumbo 667 25.5% 443 47 10.6%
5 Nelson Cruz 667 23.8% 430 43 10.0%
6 Todd Frazier 666 24.5% 427 40 9.4%
Mike Napoli 645 30.1% 363 34 9.4%
8 Edwin Encarnacion 702 19.7% 463 42 9.1%
9 Brian Dozier 691 20.0% 477 42 8.8%
10 Kris Bryant 699 22.0% 449 39 8.7%
11 Adam Duvall 608 27.0% 388 33 8.5%
12 David Ortiz 626 13.7% 451 38 8.4%
Yoenis Cespedes 543 19.9% 371 31 8.4%
Batted denotes at-bats minus strikeouts, or all batted balls.
HR% denotes home runs as a percentage of Batted.
Of 146 qualified batters.

That’s 13 hitters out of over 140 qualifiers — or, less than 10% of the entire sample. Walker’s 2016 home-run rate was beaten by only five qualifiers this year — or, less than 5%. That’s rare power.

For how rare it is throughout the league, it’s actually not as rare in Milwaukee. The highlighted rows in the second table illustrate why: one of them (Chris Carter) denotes a current member of the team; the other one (Khris Davis), a recent member of the team. Carter and Davis are basically only two of five hitters this season to have done one a major-league field what Walker did on a bunch of minor-league ones. There are more nuanced ways to discuss Adam Walker, of course. If pressed for time, however, “younger Chris Carter” or “bigger Khris Davis” will mostly suffice.

We hoped you liked reading Adam Walker Will Look Familiar to Milwaukee by Carson Cistulli!

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Blue Shoes
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Blue Shoes

That swing screams Chris Carter. It feels like he’s just laying the bat out there, and it goes 400 feet.