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Column: Christian Walker should be an MLB All-Star, plain and simple

imageby:Jack Veltri07/09/24

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One week from now, the 94th edition of the MLB All-Star Game will take place in Arlington, Texas.

The full rosters were revealed on Sunday with 32 players being named first-time All-Stars. Despite there being 67 players named to the two teams this year, there’s always players who get “snubbed.” And that continues to be the case this year.

There are a few players who fit this bill and were notably left off the rosters. However, there might not be a bigger snub than former Gamecock Christian Walker.

Regardless of record, all 30 teams must have at least one representative at the All-Star Game. In a year where the Arizona Diamondbacks have underperformed, currently one game under .500, Walker has been one of the few bright spots. In fact, he’s arguably been the team’s best player in 2024.

Yet, it wasn’t enough for him to be the team’s lone All-Star. That honor has gone to Ketel Marte, who to be fair, is having a good season. He’s hitting .281 with 17 homers and 51 RBI. He leads the D-Backs with a .351 OBP, .851 OPS and 95 hits. So it makes sense why he was selected.

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What doesn’t make sense, though, is why Walker also wasn’t a representative for the team. At 33 years old, normally the time when a player slowly starts to exit their prime, he hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s hitting .265/.338/.507 with a team-leading 22 homers and 65 RBI. He’s neck and neck with Marte in a handful of statistics, coming right behind him in second for a lot of the individual batting categories.

And over the last week, he’s really solidified his case to be one of those first-timers. So far in July, he’s hitting .355 with five homers and 12 RBI in 31 at-bats, which is absolutely absurd. All five of those home runs came in a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers to start off the month.

But it’s not just what he’s done at the plate that’s been impressive. He’s certainly one of the best defensive first baseman in the game. Coming into this season, he’s won the National League’s Gold Glove Award at first base for the past two years. In 90 games (89 starts), he’s made two errors and made 713 putouts, well on pace of what’s he done in recent seasons.

So it’s not like he’s a one-dimensional player. He’s been solid in all aspects. But for some reason, it hasn’t been good enough and that’s the problem.

Let’s circle back to the part where every team needs to have an All-Star. It makes sense why the D-Backs don’t have more than one player going because the team in general hasn’t been great this season. But when you have each team taking up at least one spot on the roster, it adds up.

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For instance, the New York Mets are one of those teams with only one All-Star. Most would’ve probably figured Brandon Nimmo or Francisco Lindor would be that one player. But somewhat surprisingly, it’s neither of those players. Instead, Pete Alonso, the Mets’ first baseman, is heading to Arlington.

And this is where you can easily argue for Walker. He’s simply having a better year than Alonso and it’s not particularly close. In every major statistical category, Walker is better than Alonso. For comparison, Alonso is hitting .240/.321/.459 with 18 homers and 48 RBI, all lower than Walker.

It’s hard to say Walker should be in over someone like Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman, who continues to be one of the best players in the sport. But it’s crazy he’s being left out simply because all 30 teams must have one or more players on the roster.

The good news is there’s always replacements added to the rosters throughout the week leading up to the game. Injuries happen and some guys just prefer to have the four to five days of time off. So there’s still a good chance Walker will make the team as a late addition. But it still doesn’t change the fact that this discussion shouldn’t even be happening right now.

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