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January 19, 2009

Oh, seriously!

***Ever wonder what happens when I am behind in giving my opinion on last week’s Hall of Fame announcement? In short…David Allan steps in.***

Well I guess I should start this off with congratulations to Rickey Henderson, a first ballot Hall of Famer to be sure. My first quick question is who are the 28 guys that honestly believed that Rickey wasn’t Hall worthy?

The conversations with colleagues, friends, family or anyone else interested for that matter had to go like this.

So, who was on your ballot this year besides Henderson?
I mean, did you vote for Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith and Jack Morris? How about it, were you one of the few that threw a vote to Dave Parker or David Cone, maybe Big Mac or Alan Trammell?

Bonehead Writer: Actually no, to be honest, I didn’t vote for Rickey.

DA: Oh really, you submitted a blank ballot? Figured none of these guys where Hall of Fame worthy then? It’s hard to believe, but I’d love to hear the argument.

Bonehead Writer: No, I wasn’t one of those two. I picked Rice, Dawson, Jay Bell, and Mo Vaughn.

DA: Jay Bell? Really?You voted for JAY BELL?!?

Bonehead Writer: Well, I feel that nobody should be a unanimous first ballot Hall of Famer.

DA: But somewhere out there guys like you support the notion that Jay Bell, Mo Vaughn and Jesse Orosco could be Hall of Famers. They got votes for crying out loud. Somebody must have checked their boxes? You guys must be half way to the moon if you think any of this makes a lick of sense! Those guys don’t even qualify for The Hall of Very Good!

Or at least that’s how I’d imagine the conversation to go in my head. Those 26 writers that voted should be ashamed of themselves for not choosing an obvious Hall of Fame choice in Rickey.

As for the two writers that submitted blank ballots, get over yourselves.

Honestly, you’ve been given the privilege of choosing who is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and you waste it on some childish notion that there shouldn’t be a unanimous first ball Hall of Famer?

I would also like to say thank you to Jim Rice. Jim, Canada wants to buy you a drink.

Why Canada you ask?

No don’t go running for your atlas; Boston hasn’t somehow been magically transported to Manitoba. Although I am sure there are a few in New York that wish it had been.

I’d like to thank the Red Sox media machine for making Rice the darling pick over the last couple years, to the point where he edged his way over that 75% threshold.

Why you ask?

Great question, because I couldn’t understand how Rice got there. I mean it wasn’t like at some point in the last 15 years he collected a couple hundred more hits, or swatted another 120 home runs.

The argument I keep hearing is that his numbers have become more impressive because of the era he played in and the six or seven seasons of dominance that he had. His steep decline later in his career has some how become less of a problem with writers became over the past couple of rounds of voting.

So I submit to you Jim Ed Rice. A .298 batting average, 382 bombs, 2452 hits, 1451 RBI and 58 stolen bases. He was eight times an All-Star, once an MVP and one Hell of an American.

In his best major league season he batted .325 with 46 home runs and 139 RBI. He collected 213 hits, swiped 10 bases and was caught 5 times.

If all of that is Hall worthy, let’s talk about Larry Robert Kenneth Walker, born December 1, 1966 in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. That’s right, Larry Walker, or as I like to call him Canada’s next Hall of Fame inductee.

Nope, Canada isn’t struggling to add anyone else to the National Hockey League Hall of Fame, so let me focus my efforts on Cooperstown.

Okay, now that you have screamed out the word “WHAT?”, in utter disgust and then proceeded to slowly mouth the words “Larry Walker?” over and over again in an extremely slow and confused manner, let me get started.

First things first, Walker only averaged 125 games for his career, because of injuries, so we can conclude that although he did play 17 years in The Show for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, some of his raw numbers are a little light.

That being said, let’s start with the two stats that Hall of Fame writers go straight to when measuring greatness, homeruns and hits.

Walker managed 383 home runs. One more than Rice’s all time total. Plus, he did it in 1300 less at bats. Larry managed to knock a big fly over the wall at a clip of 1 every 18.03 at bats. Rice on the other hand whacked long balls at a pace of 1 per every 21.53 trips to the dish.

Everyone, at this point, is going to point to the ballpark on this stat. But can we not agree that Fenway has inflated a few numbers in its day? For the record, Walker’s home vs. road splits for home runs during his entire career is 56/44 (home vs. away), while Rice is 54/46.

Now in the hits category Walker is 292 hits shy of Rice’s total at 2160, but taking into account the number of at bats missed over his career, especially those in his prime, we can safely say that Walker’s career .313 batting average would more than likely put his career total some where in the 2400-2500 hit range.

If you take his career average and multiply it by the number of additional at bats Rice had, we get an additional 412 career hits for Walker or 2572. Moreover, if you look at his 162 game avg, and multiply that by his 17 year career we are looking at 2992, or a mere eight hits shy of 3000, but I am sure he would’ve come back to get, and probably 100 or so more.

Walker does get hurt by the limited at bats in the RBI total as well, although he falls short of Rice, his 1311 has him in similar company to Paul Molitor, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose, Mike Piazza and Duke Snider.

I would again go back to a yearly average of 107.

1700 runners driven in is exclusive company as it puts you in the top 25 for an all-time career. That’s ahead of Ernie Banks, Tony Perez, Cal Ripken Jr. It puts you in the club with Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Reggie Jackson, Honus Wagner and Ken Griffey Junior.

Those names all sound like Hall of Famers to me.

His 471 career doubles outpace Rice by 98 for his career. We are talking about Jim Rice, a right-handed batter that played in a park that manufactures doubles out of long fly ball outs. So again I am not impressed by the home vs. road knock on Walker.

I know you’re thinking it.

We can talk offense all day, but it is apparent to people that watched that both were great, but that Walker was a more complete player. He stole 230 career bases, compared to Rice’s 58.

Walker took home, count them with me now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Gold Gloves over a ten year period. Rice managed NONE.

Rice was a two-time Silver Slugger winner, an award Walker took home three times. Walker’s resume also includes three league batting titles. He hit a whopping .379 in 1999! He finished in the top ten six times. Rice also had six top ten finishes, but was never higher than third.

There are 92 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For his career, Larry Walker ranks in the Top 100 all-time in batting average, home runs, doubles, at bat to RBI ratio, extra base hits and on base percentage. In 1997, he became a member of the 30/30 club.

I submit to you Larry Walker. One MVP, three batting titles, five All-Star games and seven Gold Gloves. His 162 games average is a batting average of .313, an on base percentage of .400, a slugging percentage of .565, 31 home runs, 107 RBI, 38 doubles, and 19 stolen bases.

I present to you Canada’s next Hall of Famer.
***Note: Based on the "Is Larry Walker a Hall of Famer" poll that was on the page...only 40% of you think he is.***

BallHype: hype it up!


joel kirstein said...

Hi David, an excellent and very compelling case you make for larry walker to make the HOF. It might take awhile but if Rice is in and Mattingly gets ins, Walker is a vastly more well-rounded player beyond just hitting, his defense and speed give him elements that neither Rice or Mattingly had.

JB said...

I agree, Walker "smells" like a HOF'er. It is funny how we sometimes forget about injuries shortening the careers of "sure-fire" hall of famers. That being said, I still think Walker has the Coors thing hanging over his head (for now) and if guys like Dawson, Mattingly and Dale Murphy (my charity case) don't get in, I have a hard time letting Walker in. Who knows, maybe in 15 years all 4 of the above get in? Canada will have to wait for!

Jesus said...

What gets me about the Larry Walker-Jim Rice argument is the "peak". Everyone went from thinking Rice WASN'T Hall material to, all of a sudden, trumpeting his peak years.

Hands down...Walker was better.

From 1995-2002, Walker's numbers (AVG., 2B, HR, RBI) were sick. For those eight years...he compiled a yearly AVERAGE of .340, 3# 2B, 30 HR and 94 RBI.

Now, take into consideration the injuries he sustained in 1996 and 2001 and his numbers were all the more sick. In that six years (and remember, six years seems to be what defines a "peak" in the case of Rice), Walker averaged .350, 37 2B, 35 HR and 107 RBI.

Was it the Coors effect? Maybe.

Should we not count it? Definitely not.

We're not adding HRs to Babe Ruth's total because he was playing in monster sized fields are we? We're not taking away HRs from Hank Aaron because he played at the Launching Pad in Atlanta are we? We would we do this to Larry Walker? We never see Todd Helton get so unfairly maligned.

Walker is up for election in 2011 and I suspect he won't get near the 75% needed...especially with Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and John Franco on the ballot for the first time.

E said...

Walker's another guy, like Rice, whose career stats were plagued by a sub-20 year career. But Jesus Christ, this guy was a monster for as long as he did play (and when he was healthy).

Ironically, I think his HoF chances are hurt by the fact that he retired a year too late. I think he'd be a walk-in with 2010's weak nominees (and the fact that there are no 2009 carryovers).

DA said...

Glad to see a little discussion, maybe even a hint of support for the former midget AAA goalie from Maple Ridge.