Larry Walker‘s name will be on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, the former Rockies slugger’s 10th time on the ballot. Back in 2019, Walker appeared on just over 50% of the ballots, and frankly, that number is too low. Larry Walker shouldn’t have spent 10 years on the ballot.
Larry Walker should already be in Cooperstown at this point.
According to JAWS, an advanced analytic metric that was created by Jay Jaffe “as a means to measure a player’s Hall of Fame worthiness. A player’s JAWS is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR. Note that only batting or pitching WAR are used in determining the averages at a given position.” With that in mind, Larry Walker ranks 10th All-Time in JAWS for any Right Fielder to ever play the game of baseball with 58.7.
The Right Fielders Above Larry Walker:
- Babe Ruth – 123.4 JAWS
- Hank Aaron – 101.7 JAWS
- Stan Musial – 96.1 JAWS
- Mel Ott – 80.3 JAWS
- Frank Robinson – 80.1 JAWS
- Al Kaline – 70.8 JAWS
- Reggie Jackson – 60.4 JAWS
- Harry Heilmann – 59.6 JAWS
So why are we holding Larry Walker out of Cooperstown?
Is it because of Steroid use? No.
Is it because he’s an awful person? No.
Is it because he played for the Colorado Rockies and got the majority of his stats at Coors Field?
It’s that one. That’s the reason and it’s the worst one.
On the ballot this year are Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who are in the eighth year of eligibility. Clemens, one of the most decorated pitchers of all-time, and Bonds, one of the most decorated and feared hitter of all-time, should have been first-ballot inductees. Yet, because of their dark and murky history surrounding PED use in baseball, they remain on the outside looking in.
There’s a good reason to keep them waiting for as long as they have been. Both Clemens and Bonds have a lot of baggage and a lot of questions surrounding their numbers and awards.
Larry Walker does not. The only thing Walker has against him is that he played in Colorado.
Coors Field is known for it’s elevation, which allows players to launch baseballs into orbit at a 2.7 Home Runs per game clip. That’s high, y’all. However, it’s something that the Rockies front office has taken into consideration.
According to Baseball-Reference, “the Rockies’ current General Manager, Dan O’Dowd, keenly appreciates that Coors Field is a unique baseball environment and has tried various approaches to deal with it. He has proposed a number of theories about what kinds of players should be especially successful at high elevation and tried signing them. Unfortunately, his theories have not been especially successful, leading to the Neagle and Hamilton signings. He also instituted the practice of storing baseballs in a special humidor, which appears to have helped to reduce the Coors Field park effect somewhat.
What is ironic is that the Rockies have never had problems posting excellent records at home; it is their atrocious road play that has doomed them over the years, leading some analysts to suggest that they are looking at the problem with the wrong lens: by trying to find players who will do exceptionally well at Coors Field, they end up with a team incapable of winning baseball in “normal” conditions.”
Larry Walker was one of those players. While playing for the Rockies over nine seasons, Walker hit .384 at Coors Field, and .270 in every other ballpark. A 114 point swing is exactly the number you’re looking for if you want to keep Walker out of Cooperstown.
So what if Larry Walker never played a game at Coors Field?
Don’t worry. I did the math for you.
Larry Walker has 2,160 career hits, 471 doubles, 1,311 RBIs, 1,355 runs, 383 home runs, with a .313 average over 1,998 games in 17 seasons.
The Average Hall of Famer has 2,410 career hits, 416 doubles, 1,229 RBIs, 1,331 runs, 224 home runs, with a .302 average over 2,156 games in 18 seasons.
If Larry Walker never played a game at Coors Field, but still played all of his road games as a Rockie, he would finish his career with 1,346 career hits, 293 doubles, 740 RBIs, 800 runs, 229 home runs, with a .282 average over 1,391 games in 13.4 seasons.
Those numbers are close to Hall of Famers like Ralph Kiner and Roy Campanella. But in today’s modern game, Walker falls short. But then again, you have to consider that we’re cutting almost 25% of his career games.
So let’s assume that Walker plays somewhere else, and his numbers shrink to 75% of what they were at Coors field. Where does he stand then?
Walker on another random team, playing at a level of 75% Coors Field dweller, the Canadian Slugger would own 1,753 career hits, 382 doubles, 1,025 RBIs, 1,077 runs, 303 home runs, with a .312 average over his 1,988 games in 17 seasons.
Those numbers are closer to Hall of Fame average. But that’s all conjecture, based on the math of a Broadway Performer.
My main point here is that, no matter how you stack it, Larry Walker was a Hall of Fame-caliber player. He was. Don’t fight it. He’s too good for “Hall of Very Good” status. It’s simple. So let him into Cooperstown.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have sat on the ballot for eight years with questions surrounding their eligibility, their morals, and their impact on the game for the better and for worse. They should sit on the ballot until their final year. That’s their punishment. While Mariano Rivera walks in without a single vote against, Bonds and Clemens should crawl to the finish line. The reason being the choices they made regarding steroid use and the ways it impacted the game.
Larry Walker was voted the 9th in Canada’s Top Athlete’s of the 20th Century. He was the only baseball player to make the Top 10. Walker brought baseball to Colorado, making an immediate impact on a franchise that seemed to be spinning their wheels in their infancy. Larry Walker put the Rockies on the map. And he’s sat on the ballot for a decade because of where he played.
If Larry Walker isn’t a Hall of Famer, then no Colorado Rockies player will ever grace the walls of Cooperstown. And that’s bad for baseball.
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