Walker's standout season at 1B nets him Gold Glove

November 1st, 2022

PHOENIX -- Christian Walker always believed he could be a good defensive first baseman, even if that wasn't his reputation as he was coming up through the Minor Leagues, so he kept working and working on it with D-backs infield coach Tony Perezchica.

Walker was rewarded for his efforts Tuesday, when he was named the winner of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for a National League first baseman, joining Paul Goldschmidt as the only Arizona first basemen to win the honor.

Last week, Walker won the Fielding Bible's award for first basemen after he led all players at the position in Defensive Runs Saved with 17, the highest total for that position since Joey Votto posted 18 DRS in 2019.

"Awards aside, I've always felt like I was a better defender than the label that was on me," Walker said before the final game of the regular season. "I had -- and still have -- a lot of room to grow and get better. That's definitely on the offseason list, making sure I stay on top of that stuff. [There are] a lot of good feelings that I have when I think back and think about who I wanted to become as a defender. Like I said, I still have a ton of room to grow, and I don't think I'm the defender that I'm going to be."

Goldschmidt won a Gold Glove while playing for the D-backs in 2013, 2015 and 2017.

Walker was a finalist for the award in 2019, when he also led the NL in Defensive Runs Saved, but Anthony Rizzo, then with the Cubs, ended up winning.

This was Walker's first Gold Glove Award, but given his intense work ethic and commitment to getting better at fielding, it may not be his last.

"He's the best defensive first baseman in baseball," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said last month. "I can't even calculate how many runs he has probably saved us that don't even get noticed sometimes because he just picks everything and everyone up. He's done that consistently for the entire season. Good for him."

Walker was an iron man for the D-backs in 2022, one of just eight players on the club to play in 160-plus games.

At the plate, Walker rebounded from a disappointing 2021 to post an .804 OPS and 126 OPS+ to go along with 36 homers and 94 RBIs. The increase in home runs (26 more) and RBIs (48) from 2021-22 was the Majors’ largest among players with at least 400 at-bats.

Walker's teammate Daulton Varsho was a Gold Glove finalist for both right field and the newly created utility designation.