Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#104 Bob Walk - Atlanta Braves

Card:  This is Walk’s 3rd Topps card.
Pic:  Another sea of powder blue.  I think Walk needs to lose the cheesy 'stache.
Player:  Bob Walk was a 3rd round pick of the Phillies in 1976 and was called up to the big leagues in May of ’80.  He joined the rotation and made 27 starts with a winning record de-spite a 4.57 ERA.  He did not pitch in the NLCS but started, and won Game 1 of the World Series against the Royals even though he gave up six runs.  The Phillies went on to win the series and the 23 year-old won a championship ring in his rookie season.
During spring training in 1981 the Phillies sent Walk to Atlanta in exchange for Gary Matthews.  Walk’s time in Atlanta was not successful.  He had a 4.57 ERA in 43 innings of work in ’81 and spent part of the year back at AAA.  He stayed with the Braves for all of the ’82 season but posted a 4.87 ERA in 164 innings.  Walk gave up a run in one inning of work in the NLCS against the Cardinals.  Walk spent most of ’83 back at AAA Richmond and pitched just 3.2 innings with the Braves.
The Braves released Walk in March of ’84 and he was signed by the Pirates a week later.   He spent most of the next two seasons pitching for AAA Hawaii.  He was called up to Pittsburgh both years and pitched effectively with a 3.52 ERA in 11 total starts.  Walk was used a long reliever and spot starter in ’86, racking up 141 innings with a 3.75 ERA.  He assumed the same role in ’87 and did an excellent job with a 3.31 ERA in 117 innings.
Walk was plugged into the rotation in ’88 and started 32 games with a 2.71 ERA.  Walk was very good at keeping the ball down and subsequently only allowed 6 home runs all year in 212 innings.  His performance earned him a spot on the NL All-Star team.  Walk won a career best 13 games in ’89 but was quite hittable as his 4.41 ERA suggests.  Walk dealt with injuries in ’90 that limited him to 129 innings.  He was effective when healthy, with a 3.75 ERA which was around the league average.  The Pirates counted on Walk to start two games in the NLCS against the Reds.  Walk won Game 1 but was tagged with the loss in Game 4.  For the series he allowed 7 runs in 13 innings.
Walk was 9-2 in ’92 and was used as both a starter and reliever.  When the Pirates returned to the NLCS he was used out of the pen three times against the Braves.  He did well, earning a save and allowing only two runs in 9.1 frames but Atlanta took the series.  Walk switched back and forth from starter to reliever during the ’92 season.  Again he thrived in this role with a 3.20 ERA in 135 innings.  The Pirates and Braves met again in the ‘92 NLCS.  Walk was roughed up in a relief outing Game 2, but was fantastic in his Game 5 start.  Walk allowed just three hits and one run in a complete game victory that kept the Bucs hopes alive.  Atlanta ended Pittsburgh’s playoff run, and after three consecutive NL East titles the franchise hasn’t returned to the postseason.
Walk was a starter in ’93 and although he tied his career best with 13 wins, he took his lumps with a WHIP of 1.519 and his 5.68 ERA.  Walk was released at the season’s conclusion and he called it a career. 
Stuff: Two-seam fastball, curve, slider, change

Flipside:  Walk struck out 150 at single-A Peninsula and 135 at double-A Reading but he never struck out more than 94 in a major league season.

Oddball:  In a 1998 USA Today Baseball Weekly Poll asking readers to vote for the player they would pay the most to watch, Bob Walk received two votes. When asked for a comment, Walk replied "I didn't know my kids subscribed to Baseball Weekly".

History:  Bob Walk compiled a 105-81 record in his 14 year career.  He pitched in 350 games, 259 starts with a 4.03 ERA (ERA+ 93).  He seemed to do well when he wasn't a full time starter and was a valuable member of the Pirates early 90's squad that won three divisions in a row.  He won a World Series with the Phillies and was once an All-Star. 
Today Walk provides color commentary on Pirates broadcasts.  


  1. The nickname on his APBA card was great -- "Whirlybird"

  2. Rough last name for a pitcher, huh? Kind of like Grant Balfour... :)

  3. Could be worse...how about Homer Bailey?