Larry Walker stays on Hall of Fame ballot


Larry Walker received enough votes to remain on the Hall of Fame ballot when the class of 2015 was announced on Tuesday.

As voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), the class of 2015 for the Baseball Hall of Fame will consist of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio.

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On a ballot that was especially crowded and that might have had more than four deserving candidates, former Colorado Rockies’ outfielder Larry Walker still received enough votes to remain on the ballot.

Walker has always maintained that his primary goal is to stay on the ballot for the entire 15 years that he is eligible. With this, he has now received enough to stay on for five years.

In a bit of good news, Walker’s vote totals actually went up this year. Considering the fact that many were concerned that he would fall off the ballot completely, we’ll call that a win.

It would appear that Walker agrees.

Walker was a career .313/.400/.565 hitter. He slugged 383 career home runs and drove in 1,311 runs.

Besides his offensive greatness, he was the finest all-around player that this writer has ever seen. As I have said and will say, again and again, Walker was always the best fielder and best base runner on the field anytime he was in the lineup.

Walker amassed 72.6 WAR in his career, a number worthy of the Hall. Two arguments work against him:

1. Coors Field – yes, that bugaboo. Walker posted a .965 OPS and a career 141 OPS+, numbers that certainly illustrate his offensive dominance. What people cannot get past, however, is the fact that he posted a 1.065 OPS at home in the altitude. Never mind the fact that his road OPS (.865) is also phenomenal; to date it seems like the conversation stops at the home numbers.

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The same goes for his career home runs, where Walker hit 215 at home versus 168 on the road. That seems to only be something that bothers people about Colorado, however. As a cherry-picked example, consider Frank Thomas. He had more total career home runs, but a far more glaring split between home and road. The Big Hurt hit 312 home runs at home opposite 209 on the road.

The point here is not to take away from other worthy candidates as much as it is to tell people to quit freaking penalizing the Rockies for being better at home when a lot of players are better at home in their careers. I find the Coors Field factor far less problematic than the second main detractor for Walker’s case.

2. Longevity, or lack thereof

Injuries took a big enough bite out of Walker’s career to cost him significantly in the Hall of Fame voting. In 17 years, he played just 1,988 games. That prevented him from reaching any of the magic numbers where voters might have overlooked Coors Field.

Perhaps more importantly, that hurt his chances of making an even more lasting impression on people’s memories.

Another year, and another round of Hall of Fame voting in which Walker stayed on the ballot. Let’s hope he can build even more momentum and keep gaining votes in the years to come.

Next: Colorado Rockies: What to look for in 2015