The Hall of Fame Case for Larry Walker


Coors Field may eliminate any chance Larry Walker has at the Hall of Fame. If only he had played for the Red Sox. Fenway is just as much of a hitters’ park as Coors, yet doesn’t have the same stigma. Red Sox players are not deprived of MVP awards because of their home stadium — cough, cough, CarGo, cough, cough. There are many ballparks that provide advantages to both hitters and pitchers, but none stir up more controversy than Coors Field. There is a bias against beautiful Coors and guys like Walker and Todd Helton will suffer as a result.

Larry Walker was the best right fielder in baseball for the better part of the Nineties. He could run, hit and was one of the greatest defensive right fielders ever. During his era, no one could match Walker’s combination of range and throwing ability. He is seventh all-time in career assists from right field. He also won seven Gold Gloves — good for eighth all-time amongst outfielders. That is quite a feat for a guy that spent so many years roaming Coors’ cavernous outfield. Playing right field in Denver is no easy task. Just ask Brad Hawpe. Larry excelled in Colorado; he was the game’s pre-eminent defensive right fielder during his time here. Ozzie Smith made the Hall because of great defense. Shouldn’t Walker’s supremacy in right carry significant weight in his candidacy for the Hall? And if the BBWAA is going to dock his offense so heavily because of Coors Field, shouldn’t they have to reward his defense for the same reason?

Apr. 26, 2010 - Denver, Colorado, U.S. - MLB Baseball - The Colorado Rockies honored DANTE BICHETTE with a pregame ceremony at Coors Field. Bichette, a four-time All-Star and one of the famed

(Photo: Yardbarker.com)
Needless to say, Larry should get a few more votes than Dante did.

Larry could also hit a little bit. For his career, he hit .313, including four seasons in which he hit over .350. He was awarded three Silver Sluggers and won three batting titles. He crushed 383 homeruns in just over 8000 at bats. If he hadn’t battled so many injuries, he would have hit 500. He got on base with regularity — a .400 career OBP — and was consistently among the league leaders in OPS and Slugging.

His 1997 MVP season was one of the greatest single season efforts ever:

AVG.

OBP

Slug

OPS

HR

RBI

2B

SB

.366

.452

.720

1.172

49

130

46

33

Now for the kicker — Walker’s Home/Road splits from 1997:

 

AVG.

OBP

Slug

OPS

HR

RBI

2B

SB

HOME

.384

.460

.709

1.169

20

68

30

17

ROAD

.346

.443

.733

1.176

29

62

16

16

That year, he was actually a more dangerous hitter on the road. Regardless of his home stadium, he was clearly MLB’s best player. One great season does not make a Hall of Famer, but these numbers prove that Walker’s ability was legitimate, even if his splits were pretty extreme in other years. His best seasons in Montreal can’t be ignored either. In the strike-shortened 1994 season, he was instrumental in the Expos’ first place finish. He hit .322 that year. Walker also won two of his Gold Gloves and one of his Silver Sluggers while in Montreal.

The Rockies have a short history, but the BBWAA has not been kind to the few players who have become Hall of Fame eligible. Ellis Burks and Andres Galarraga each hit over 350 career homeruns, but last year was their first and last on the ballot. They both received less than 5% of the vote. Burks and Galarraga have steroid ties, but Coors Field also played a huge role.

It would be foolish to exclude Walker from the Hall because of where he played. He was a tremendous all-around ballplayer who had a fantastic career. Plus, last I checked, Coors Field is an approved Major League ballpark. Rockies fans need to pay close attention to January’s vote by the BBWAA. You can expect Todd Helton to receive the same kind of treatment that Walker is given.

Follow the RoxPile on Facebook and @Logan_Burdine on Twitter.

Next Rockies Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep6:40San Francisco GiantsBuy Tickets

Tags: Larry Walker

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention The Hall of Fame Case for Larry Walker | RoxPile | A Colorado Rockies Blog -- Topsy.com

  • flatrox

    It’s a truism to say that Coors Field is a hitter’s park, but this shouldn’t exclude Larry Walker and Todd Helton from the Hall of Fame and shouldn’t exclude Cargo from a shot at the MVP.

    Nevertheless, the BBWAA is replete with members who believe that Coors Field magically erases ability when it comes time to handing out awards. I’m reminded of a Tweet i read from Keith Law who argued against the MVP candidacy of Cargo with the following statement, “A universal park factor for Coors is too kind to CarGo, whose main weakness as a hitter is neutered in that park.” Well, Cargo didn’t have encouraging home-road splits, and the Rockies fell apart in September, and Joey Votto was more deserving. But Cargo is no hack. Did you see that monster walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th against the Chicago Cubs? That was Cargo making a statement!

    Still the defamation of Coors Field continues. Chipper Jones essentially echoed the words of Keith Law by stating that Cargo had an unfair Coors-Field advantage. I love the fact that Tulo’s unassisted triple play came at the expense of Chipper’s line drive in the 2007 season.

    I guess the point is that the bias held by the BBWAA is echoed with the players. There’s only one way to erase this bias; the Rockies must start winning 90+ games a season, and they need a couple of successful runs through the playoffs and a couple WS rings. Winning is the cure to this bias and will, in the long run, help with the Hall of Fame candidacies of deserving players like Larry Walker and Todd Helton.

    And great news about Tulo’s new contract and the apparent signing of Jorge De La Rosa! We are essentially where we were at the end of October – which is OK – but, if the Rockies don’t sign a RHB, I hope that Stewart, Smith, and Iannetta are eating their Wheaties. The Rockies are going to need them strong and hitting the ball well!

  • Logan Burdine

    flatrox,

    the other way it happens is if Tulo or CarGo has such a great career that they blow the doors off of the argument. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point. Walker and Helton belong.