Colorado Rockies: 3 players who prove Larry Walker’s HOF worthiness

DENVER - JULY 9: Right fielder Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies hits a two-run double against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Coors Field on July 9, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies won 11-7. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
DENVER - JULY 9: Right fielder Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies hits a two-run double against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB game at Coors Field on July 9, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies won 11-7. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /
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Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies
DENVER – APRIL 5: Right fielder Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies runs to first base during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field on April 5, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks 4-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

Let’s start with WAR. Below is each player and their respective fWAR/bWAR/WARP splits:

Walker: 68.7/72.7/63.2 – Average of 68.2
Gwynn: 65.0/69.2/49.5 – Average of 61.2
Guerrero: 54.5/59.4/66.1 – Average of 60.0
Ichiro: 57.8/59.4/39.0 – Average of 52.1

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So Walker leads the pack with a high Average WAR of 68.2. The only type of WAR he doesn’t lead in is WARP (63.2 vs Guerrero’s 66.1). And to be fair, Baseball Prospectus has a strikingly different POV on Gwynn and Ichiro. So if we exclude WARP, here’s how the Average WAR looks for each player:

Walker: 70.7
Gwynn: 67.1
Guerrero: 57.0
Ichiro: 58.6

So even then, Walker’s still clearly in the lead with a 3.6 WAR lead over Gwynn.

Now let’s evaluate how good of a hitter each was. Gwynn and Ichiro made names for themselves by being guys who just got on base in any way possible. Vlad and Walker were more power hitters but still got on base at a pretty high clip. You already know that Walker leads the pack in OBP at .400, but let’s see how their wRC+/OPS+/DRC+ splits look:

Walker: 140/141/134
Gwynn: 132/132/122
Guerrero: 136/140/139
Ichiro: 104/107/100

The most glaring stat here is that even after accumulating 3,089 hits in his career, Ichiro is rated as a slightly better than average hitter. Yet, because he hit the major milestone of 3,000 hits, he’s going to be a certified lock for the Hall of Fame and will go in on his first ballot. Walker, Gwynn and Guerrero were each about 25-30% more productive than Ichiro on average.

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