9 Reasons Why Larry Walker Should Be In The Baseball Hall Of Fame
In the early years of Larry Walker’s time on the Hall of Fame ballot, a writer who once covered Walker wrote about how much he enjoyed watching Walker’s skills in action, but that he wasn’t a Hall of Famer because he wasn’t serious enough about the game. A few years later, when the writer wanted to talk to Walker, he apologized for what he had written, but the damage had been done.
Walker is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the ninth time this year, having never received as much as 35 percent support from voters despite a career that is one of the most impressive in the history of the game.
Didn’t take the game seriously enough? Because he smiled and wasn’t afraid for fans and media to see he was having a good time? Good thing that writer never watched George Brett play. Sorry, but the fact a player is having fun and doesn’t mind everyone else knowing it should be viewed as a positive.
Didn’t take the game seriously enough? Perhaps that’s why, despite his large frame, he willingly slid over to play center field for the Rockies at one point in his career. In fact, he was so "unserious” about the game that he broke his collarbone slamming into an outfield fence to make a catch, and he suffered other assorted ailments because of how hard he played the game.
Didn’t take the game seriously enough? Because he wasn’t looking to pad his stats? There was a game in Montreal in 1997 in which the fans loudly booed Walker because he had left the Expos as a free agent and signed with the Rockies. What those fans didn’t realize (or ignored) was that the Expos never offered him a con- tract. He homered three times in that game. With the Rockies holding a commanding lead and his fourth at-bat approaching, he suggested the at-bat go to John Vander Wal, whom he felt would benefit from an at-bat in a game situation.
Walker cared about winning, not about personal stats. But then, why would he worry about personal stats? After all, he had a career stat line that ranks among the best in major league history.
It’s unlikely that Walker will make up enough ground to receive the necessary 75 percent in the remaining two years of his eligibility, and that’s tragic.
Here are nine reasons Walker is arguably the biggest oversight in Hall of Fame voting:
1. He’s one of just six players in history who finished with a .300-plus average, .400-plus on-base percentage, .550-plus slugging percentage, 450 or more doubles, 60or more triples, 350 or more homers and 1,250-plus RBIs. The other five— Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig—are Hall of Famers.
2. Walker compiled nearly 73 wins above replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The only position players with at least 73 WAR who are eligible for the Hall of Fame but not enshrined are Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Bill Dahlen, Lou Whitaker and Walker.
3. Bill James Hall of Fame monitor, which assesses how likely a player is to make the Hall of Fame, uses a rough scale in which a score of a 100 is a good possibility and a 130 is a virtual cinch. Larry Walker has a score of 148.
4. Forget about the friendly hitting conditions at Coors Field, which Walker called home for 10 of his 17 seasons. Walker hit .278 on the road in his career, which is higher than 33 position players in the Hall of Fame.
5. Walker, who battled lefthanded, had a career .306 average against lefthanded pitchers. Tony Gwynn (.324) and Rod Carew (.317) are the only lefthanded hitters in the Hall of Fame who hit better than .306 against lefties. No. 3 on the list is Wade Boggs at .298.
6. According to Bill James’ similarity score, the No. 1 comparison for Walker is Hall of Famer Duke Snider. No. 5 is Joe DiMaggio. No. 6 is Johnny Mize and No. 10 is Chuck Klein, all Hall of Famers.
7. Walker was consistent from start to finish, posting a career batting aver- age of .301 or better in every month during his career. He also hit .313 before the all-star break and .313 after it.
8. He won seven Gold Gloves in right field. The only Hall-eligible outfielders with more than seven who aren’t enshrined are Barry Bonds, Jim Edmonds, Dwight Evans and Garry Maddox. Evans is the only right fielder in that group.
9. Not only did Walker win seven Gold Gloves, he was also a five-time all-star, three-time batting champion and the 1997 National League MVP.