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
15 Apr 1999: Larry Walker #33 of the Colorado Rockies swings at the ball during the game against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-4. /

In terms of other awards that will be considered by the BBWAA (for better or worse), Walker ranks second in the group for Gold Gloves at seven (Ichiro leads with 10) and only Tony Gwynn did not win an MVP (no one in the group received more than one MVP award in their career).

The final thing to point out is longevity. This is the largest reason, outside of Coors, that Hall of Fame voters like to dock Walker on as he only accumulated 8,030 plate appearances in his career (the average HOFer is around 10,000). The longevity piece, in Larry Walker’s case, can easily be disputed based off of the fact that the voters enshrined Vladimir Guerrero in the 2019 class.

For reference, Guerrero ended his career with 9,059 total PAs. That’s just over 1,000 more PAs than Walker and he accumulated 14.2 and 13.3 less WAR according to FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, respectively (his average gap including WARP still puts him 8.2 WAR behind Walker). So Walker was still, at the very least, one full, very good MVP season better than Guerrero in 1,000 less PAs.

With that, let’s do an experiment. I’m going to take Walker’s bWAR per PA, take that result and then multiply it by each other player’s Total PAs just to show you how much better Walker would have been, in terms of bWAR, had he gotten the same amount of many PAs. Here we go:

Gwynn (10,232 PAs, 69.2 bWAR): 92.6 Walker bWAR
Guerrero (9,059 PAs, 59.4 bWAR): 82.0 Walker bWAR
Ichiro (10,734 PAs, 59.4 bWAR): 97.2 Walker bWAR

Now Walker probably would have tapered off a bit at the end of his career if he’d gotten the same amount of PAs so those numbers might be high, but they still show that Walker was significantly more efficient with the opportunities he had than the other three players here. And even with less opportunities he was still more productive than each of Gwynn, Guerrero and Ichiro.

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