Hall Of Fame Debate: Making The Case For Larry Walker
I am slowly digesting everything that has resulted from the BWAA’s voting in regards to the 2013 Hall of Fame vote.
Ultimately, I have yet to personally decide how I feel about the steroid era. I have gone back and forth on the issue, and I see the two sides, and I understand both of them pretty well. I have yet to really take a stance on it, and to this day it is effecting how I feel about the guys that are now becoming eligible for entry into Cooperstown.
Hopefully in the coming weeks, I can solidify my stance on the whole steroid-era and stick to it. I care so much for this sport and its history – I just want to feel right about my decision…
For this week’s ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’, I wanted to discuss a player whose name has never been connected to anything about PEDs or steroids. He has, however, been tagged as a fantastic ballplayer.
I was shocked to read that Larry Walker received just 123 votes giving him only 21.6% of the total votes cast.
Walker is going to need a ton of support to get into the Hall Of Fame. Needing another 300 votes is going to be a near impossible mission. But if the BWAA really sat down and looked at the contribution that Larry Walker made to major league baseball and the teams he played for during his magnificent 17 season career, they may be swayed…
First, we need to start with the obvious – Walker played 15 of his 17 years in non-major media cities, Montreal and Denver. It is very likely that many, if not most, of the writers that make up the 569 votes of the BWAA only saw Walker play while he was making a trip to the town in which they were employed. They probably never saw his full body of work, because of their lack of interest in the Montreal and Denver franchises. I am not saying that all writers fall into this category, but it could be more than 50%…
Walker was a 5-time All-Star, who competed for roster spots in the mid-summer classic with some of the toughest competition that the National League had to offer. His five selections between 1992-2001 have him competing for spots with Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Lance Berkman, and others.
Walker was a very well rounded player that excelled on both offense and defense. Walker is a 7-time Gold Glove Award winner. He also captured three Silver Slugger awards for being one of the best hitting outfielders in the league.
Walker’s career offensive numbers look like this: 2,160 hits, 471 doubles, 62 triples, 383 home runs, 1,355 runs scored, and 1,311 RBI. He has a career batting average of .313 and an on-base percentage of .400. He was a three-time batting champion and led the league in on-base percentage twice.
Walker won the NL MVP Award in 1997. During that campaign, Walker batted .366 and led the league with a .452 on-base percentage. He paced the NL with 49 home runs while driving in 130 runs and scoring 143 times. His .720 slugging percentage also led the league.
Oh, and Larry Walker was a runner too!! He has 230 stolen bases on his resume, and a 75% success rate!!
A few more tidbits:
- When listed among the all-time hitters on BaseballReference.com, Walker is listed with Tony Gwynn, Jeff Bagwell, and Rod Carew
- He has a higher career batting average than Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor, George Brett, and Chipper Jones
- He has a higher career on-base percentage than Joe DiMaggio, Joe Morgan, Rod Carew, and Frank Robinson
With everything stated above, the question remains – Is Larry Walker a Hall Of Famer??
Ultimately, I think that there are three factors that work against Walker: (1) lack of 200-hit seasons (only had 1, and this is a benchmark stat) (2) teams played for (sometimes you cannot choose who you play for) and (3) lack of postseason presence (Walker played in three postseasons, 2 coming in his final two seasons with the Cardinals).
But, is this enough to keep him out of the Hall of Fame? Has he done enough to truly be considered for enshrinement at Cooperstown?
For me, Walker is on par, if not better than, several Hall of Famers. He does lack the postseason exposure that would help his cause, but his extremely well-rounded play gives him things on his resume that others cannot offer. The base running and defensive accomplishments cannot be overlooked. And if you asked GM’s in the 1990’s to build you an outfield, my guess is that Walker’s name would be mentioned quite often. He had elite tools, and he used all of them, very well!
If I had to vote, my vote would be ‘YES’.
How would you vote? Is Larry Walker a Hall of Famer, or is he stuck on the outside looking in??
Let me hear it. And thanks for reading! Have a great night.