Colorado Rockies history: Larry Walker wins the NL MVP
In 2017, the Colorado Rockies have two potential National League Most Valuable Player Award: Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. If either one of them win the award, they will be the second player in Rockies history to do it. The first one was former Rockies outfielder Larry Walker in 1997. We recount his MVP season as a part of our top 32 moments in Rockies franchise history tournament.
Larry Walker won the National League Most Valuable Player for his play in the 1997 season. In that season, he was also an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and won a Silver Slugger. Walker won the award in a landslide as he got 22 of the 28 first place votes (there were three first place votes each for then-Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza and then-Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell).
His numbers at the end of the season looked like this (his rank in the National League is followed behind)
153 games, 143 runs (2nd), 208 hits (2nd), 46 doubles (3rd), 49 home runs (1st), 130 RBI (3rd), 33 stolen bases (tied for 7th), a .366 batting average (2nd), .452 on-base percentage (1st), .720 slugging percentage (1st), 1.172 OPS (1st), 178 OPS+ (2nd), 409 total bases (1st), 9.8 Wins Above Replacement (1st), 8.9 Offensive WAR (1st), and 99 extra base hits (1st).
Walker started the first month of the season playing just about as well as possible. In 23 games in the month (in which the Rockies were 17-6), Walker had 29 runs, 41 hits, six doubles, 11 home runs, 29 RBI, a .456 batting average, a .538 on-base percentage, and a .911 slugging percentage.
Also, on just the fifth game of the year, in Montreal playing against his own team, Walker hit three home runs on April 5.
Walker’s numbers were back down to earth a bit but they were still excellent. In 29 games (28 starts), he had 22 runs, 38 hits, 11 doubles, four home runs, 18 RBI, 19 walks, a .365 batting average, a .472 on-base percentage, and a .625 on-base percentage.
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In June, Walker appeared in 27 games (26 starts), he had 28 runs, 40 hits, eight doubles, 10 home runs, 21 RBI, a .408 batting average, a .517 on-base percentage, and a .796 slugging percentage.
By the end of the month, Walker had 25 HRs, 68 RBI, 79 runs, 119 hits, and a .408/.507/.771 batting slash line.
The Rockies faltered in July as they went 8-18. Walker still played well but at a much lower rate than previously. In 26 games (25 starts), he had 18 runs, 29 hits, six doubles, five home runs, 20 RBI, and a .305/.361/.526 slash line.
By the end of the month, he had 30 homers, 88 RBI, 97 runs, 148 hits, 31 doubles, and a .382/.473/.711 slash line.
In the month of August, he had 24 runs, 38 hits, 10 homers, 10 doubles, and a slash line of .362/.427/.762.
His total stats were at 40 home runs, 109 RBI, 121 runs, 186 hits, and a .378/.464/.722 slash line.
In 21 games (20 starts) in the month, 22 runs, 22 hits, five doubles, nine home runs, 21 RBI, and a .289/.375/.711 so his final month of the season was his worst of the season.
Both Blackmon and Arenado both have a legitimate opportunity to win the NL MVP and join the ranks of Larry Walker as the only Rockies to be MVP winners. Especially with the team winning six straight games, the Rockies chances of making the postseason have increased. If they make it, I really wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ends up winning the award.
Next: Comparing the 1995 and 2017 Rockies teams in another moment in our tournament
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