January 7, 2013

Cooperstown 2013: Larry Walker

LARRY WALKER
Third Year on Ballot (2012 - 22.9%)

PLAYING CAREER:
Montreal Expos (1989–1994), Colorado Rockies (1995–2004) and St. Louis Cardinals (2004–2005)

ACHIEVEMENTS:
Career batting average of .313 with 2160 hits, 383 home runs, 1355 runs scored and 1311 RBI. 1997 National League MVP. Led the National League in batting three times (1998, 1999 and 2001). Hit better than .300 nine times and drove in 110 runs or more five times. Twice stole more than 30 bases and hit more than 30 home runsin a season. Walker's 409 total bases in 1997 were the most by a National Leaguer since Stan Musial's 1948 season...the mark was bettered by Barry Bonds in 2001 (411). The same year, Walker became and remains the only player to have at least 25 stolen bases and a slugging percentage of more than .700 in a season. Seven-time Gold Glove Award winner (1992-1993, 1997-1999 and 2001-2002). Five-time All-Star selection (1992, 1997-1999 and 2001).

CASE FOR/AGAINST:
According to JAWS, Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer…and I happen to agree with that. Due to my young age I’ve never seen Walker play, but from what I can tell from talking to people who did, and looking at his stats, he must have been something to watch. The five-time All-Star had a career OBP of .400 and seven times, had an OPS over 1.000! In the prime of his career, he combined great power with average speed and an awesome eye to win the MVP award in 1997 while playing for the Colorado Rockies.

Walker was worth more than four wins (bWAR) nine times in his career, and finished with a career bWAR of 69.7! Not only was he good offensively, but he also had a laser of an arm, leading the league in OF assists in 2002 with 14. Walker is arguably the best Canadian player of all-time, and he deserves to be voted into the Hall of Fame. Playing in a period where steroids ruled the league, Walker was consistently one of the best players of his time, doing so without juicing, and playing the game with honesty and integrity.

Were his numbers affected because he played in Colorado? Yes. But he still finished his career with an OPS+ of 141, which does take into effect park factors. So, in this Hall of Fame ballot, where uncertainty lies with every name due to steroids and, well, credentials, Walker deserves to be enshrined. He might not be a Babe Ruth, or Hank Aaron, but to Canadians, he is the greatest position player to ever call Canada his home and is 100% in the conversation with Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins as the greatest player, no matter what position, ever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gideon Turk is a 16-year-old 11th grade student currently living in Toronto and is a die hard Blue Jays fan. When he isn't obsessing over Alex Anthopoulos' ninja-like moves, he writes for his website bluejaysplus.com, which he has ran since its creation in May of 2010. He has also written for other sites in the past, such as calltothepen.com and jaysprospects.com. His articles have been featured on MLB Trade Rumors many times, and he hopes to continue to develop his writing skills as he continues to blog. Hopefully the Jays can win some games for him, and everybody else in Canada this season! He can be followed on twitter @gideonturk. His site can be followed on twitter @BlueJaysplus, and you could like their page on Facebook by searching "Blue Jays Plus".


2 comments:

Ruben (Red Sox Nation - Alberta) said...

Nice writeup. Being a couple of years older than you, I did see Walker with my own eyes, and he was every bit as good as his numbers reflect. Because he played in Colorado some people discount his big offensive numbers, but he was as good of a hitter away from Coors. I believe he's one of the more underrated players of his era. Definitely deserving to join Fergie Jenkins in Cooperstown as another Canadian in the Hall.

@OCP22 said...

I tend to agree with you on Walker. We didn't have him on our FBJ ballot but I think he'll get in eventually (and I hope he does). The biggest argument against Walker in the Hall and a point that I can't argue is that he hit 70 points better at home... if that' not an indictment that he might not have been as good as his numbers indicate, I don't know what is. But I think Walker's true worth is measured in all-around contributions... the Gold Gloves, the MVPs, he's one of 17 players in history to triple slash .300/.400/.500, he averaged better than 100R and 100 RBI and 19 SB per 162. Walker was a five tool player... he passes the eye test, for me.

http://baseballjunkies.blogspot.com/2012/01/hall-of-fame-debate-larry-walker-pro.html