I don’t think we saw enough of Valaika defensively at 2B (73 innings total) to draw any conclusions about whether he’s better than Alberto. I tend to doubt he is, but I don’t really have a strong view about it.
I thought Valaika did a nice job with the bat, and in particular, showed more power than I would have expected. I’m not sold that he’s a .791 hitter, but he showed enough to hold his 40-man spot this winter.
The great increases in homers and strikeouts have occurred in the last few years. I think it may be because the players are practicing putting backspin on the balls when they hit them. The backspin will make the balls travel farther, but it's also harder to put backspin on a baseball by hitting it. If you watch Sports Center when they are showing highlights of homeruns, they usually show in slow motion some of the batters' swings. If you see this from the camera angle that is near the dugout facing the batter, you can see that the batters are swinging using a downward angle. The downward angle will put backspin on the ball(if it is hit just right). It's also harder to hit the ball when your swing has that angle. So if the batters hit the pitches just right, the balls will have backspin and if those balls are in the air they will have more of a chance of going over the fence. But it is also harder to make contact with the pitch, which makes an increase in strikeouts inevitable.
Analytics have made the old idea of the level swing just something in the memories of us old-timers.