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
19 Apr 2001: Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies looks on during the game against the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Park in San Diego, California. The Rockies defeated the Padres 4-0.Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle /Allsport /

Thanks to Baseball Reference, we can split up a player’s oWAR (Offensive WAR) and dWAR (Defensive WAR). They don’t add up exactly to a player’s total bWAR, but they can give us a good idea of how each player got to their total bWAR number. Here’s how each player’s oWAR/dWAR looks:

Walker: 62.8/2.0
Gwynn: 67.2/-7.6
Guerrero: 59.1/-10.0
Ichiro: 47.8/4.9

So based off these, Walker is the second-best hitter and fielder of the group. Gwynn is ranked higher as a hitter (which is interesting given that his OPS+ is 9 points worse than Walker’s) and Ichiro is the best fielder.

This should also shed some light on how the gap between Walker and Guerrero is so large when in comes to bWAR and fWAR. Both have a similar wRC+/OPS+ number (right around 140) so they were very similar hitters. The difference of 14.2 fWAR and 13.3 bWAR (both in Walker’s favor) are simply because Walker was a decent fielder while Vlad, well, just wasn’t.

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“But Kevin, I could swear that each of those players had a larger impact for their team than Walker. Even if WAR says Walker was better, they each certainly meant more to their teams in the long run.”

OK, that’s a fair point that WAR can miss out on some things that players provide to their teams. It’s a good thing we have stats like WPA (Win Percentage Added) that can help show an additional layer of a player’s worth that isn’t captured in things that are factored into WAR. Here’s how each lines up by WPA:

Walker: 49.19
Gwynn: 57.85
Guerrero: 45.93
Ichiro: 14.33

Again, Walker ranks second among this group. Gwynn certainly had a large impact for the Padres and was extremely valuable and that can help close the WAR gap a bit between him and Walker. Vlad held his own as well. And Ichiro, well, he’s on this list.

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