May 25 – Happy Birthday Todd Walker

walkerAfter an outstanding collegiate career at LSU, Todd Walker was a first round selection (and eighth overall pick) of the Minnesota Twins in the 1994 MLB Draft. He made his big league debut two seasons later and by 1998 was the Twins’ starting second baseman. He hit .316 that year and everyone including me thought this native of Bakersfield, California was on the cusp of a great big league career. Instead, he slumped offensively the following season and when he got off to an exceptionally slow start at the plate in 1979, the Twins accepted an offer from the Rockies and sent Walker to Colorado.

That began an odyssey that would take Walker to six different big league teams during the final seven years of his career. One of the first moves Theo Epstein made after he was hired as Boston’s GM in 2002 was to acquire Walker, who was then playing for the Reds. He became Boston’s starting second baseman in ’03 and had a solid regular season with a .283 batting average and 85 RBIs. He also had played very well in both the ALDS against Oakland and especially in the ALCS against the Yankees, hitting a total of five home runs in those two playoff series.. That’s why I and a lot of of other people were shocked when Epstein let Walker declare free agency that fall and sign with the Cubs.

His last year in the Majors was 2007 and he retired with a .289 batting average and 1,316 hits for his twelve-seasoon career. This guy really was a good, all-around big-league infielder for every team he played for and it sort of mystifies me that so many ball clubs let him get away.

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