McDonald: Second Choice For Second Means First For Mets

Who cares if Daniel Murphy is hitting .397 in front of Bryce Harper in the Nationals lineup. The Mets seem to be very pleased with Neil Walker who now hit his eighth homer in the month of April.

But before you can say “Daniel Who,” this isn’t about the tired old comparison that every other space but this one has touched on hundreds of times.

This is not about Murphy, whom the Mets weren’t going to bring back, especially after his poor fielding in the World Series helped seal the deal for the Royals.

This is about the Mets first choice to play second, Ben Zobrist, whom the Amazins’ were more than happy to put around a $60 million contract in front of this winter.

Remember, Zobrist decided the go to Chicago’s North Side, spurning the Mets and happily opening up the Waukegan News Sun to get his local news. He was supposed to be the Mets big offseason acquisition and Walker became the backup plan when the Pirates came to the Mets asking for Jon Niese.

Who looks smart now?

Zobrist is hitting .254 with one homer and eight RBI, yes the same number that Walker has in homers.

Walker has been doing it all, hitting .301 with 14 RBI as well.

“Some of the balls he hit in other places, they are home run parks,” said manager Terry Collins. “We don’t play in one, but he continues to do it here. We hope he keeps doing it and hopes he produces runs because those guys in the lineup are getting on base ahead of him. He’s just swinging the bat great.”

Having Walker hitting fifth or sixth in the lineup, really extends the batting order. Having that production from the middle infield, also helps balance the batting order, so no one guy is taking too much of the load.

“Every year is a little bit different,” Walker said. “For myself, it usually takes two, three or four weeks to get started, so it’s nice to get off to a good start. It makes everything easier when the lineup is moving along. It makes it easy for you to concentrate on your own at bats.”

Walker has hit with power before, hitting 23 back in 2014, more importantly, he’s hitting them from both sides of the plate, which is something he didn’t do last year.

Maybe, though, this is because Collins relies upon Walker to hit lefthanded pitching, while Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle usually took him out of the game against some tough lefthanders.

Either way, the Mets are obviously pleased with their pick of second baseman, even if the Mets don’t have any answers on why he’s becoming the second coming of Ryne Sandberg.

“It’s a tough one, because I don’t really watch any film from the past to see if he made any changes,” Collins said. “I just know when you are seeing the ball good, you hit the ball good. He has great confidence going it and when he’s hunting for pitches, he’s putting good swings on them.”

So ride him, until he slumps. Look, no one thinks Walker will end the season with almost 50 homers. You would have to be crazy, but if he hits half of that, then the Mets would be ecstatic.

Right now, he’s a third of the way there. So, yeah, it’s a good thing Zobrist likes his deep dish pizza in Waukegan.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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