Thinking about Neil Walker

One of the better rookies in 2010 has been Neil Walker of the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting .306/.352/.480 in 356 at-bats. He has an OPS+ of 124. His defense at second isn't very good, at least according to the advanced metrics, although he's new to the position and deserves some slack there. But the bat has been quite impressive.

Is this luck?

This Fangraphs piece from last week makes the point that Walker's hitting is strong this year despite his unattractive BB/K ratio of 24/76, and that a high BABIP is helping him. These two factors don't auger well for his ability to carry this to next year.

I'm interested in the observations of Pirates fans or others who have seen him play this year. Is he getting lucky, or has he made genuine progress? I don't know, and I'd like to see what others think.

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