Jordan Walker is producing like an elite lead-off hitter
Standing at 6’5 and known as a future middle of the order bat, the thought of Walker as a lead-off man may be confusing to Cardinals fans, but his current production lends itself to that role early on in his career.
Playing in AA this season, Walker is slashing .310/.393/.522 with 15 HRs and 53 RBI in just 94 games. That on base percentage really stands out when considering someone for the lead-off spot in a lineup, and pairing that with 45 extra base hits in 368 ABs makes Walker a force to be reckoned with. Walker’s really begun to find his power stroke lately as well, which is catching the eyes of talent evaluators around baseball.
An extremely underrated part of Walker’s game is his ability to steal bases. Albeit at the AA level, Walker has 17 SB on the season, and seems to have slowed down in the last 28 days with only 2 SB during that timeframe. It is likely that the organization is asking the future star to tone his base running down to protect himself from injury, but would be unleashed upon hitting the big leagues.
This style of game, big power with elite on base skills and great baserunning puts Walker in the mold of some of the other great lead-off hitters in the game today, such as Ronald Acuna Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Mookie Betts, among others. All of these players can anchor a lineup in the middle of the order, but have been utilized as lead-off hitters for various reasons. Allowing Walker to bat at the top of the lineup with his skill set would transform the St. Louis lineup.
Walker could profile as a 2-hole hitter or bat 5th in the lineup, but leading him off everyday means trouble for opposing pitchers. Having to face a threat like Walker to begin every game with guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado behind him would be a nightmare to pitch against.
Based on the way Walker looks and is producing at AA, there is reason to believe the learning curve for him at the major league level would not be too large, and the right handed hitter could see himself be a very good to elite lead-off man rather quickly.