When the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame voting results are announced on Wednesday afternoon, Larry Walker will likely not be among the players inducted this year. The 75 percent threshold will be a bit too much for him to overcome, but the minimum five percent to stay on the ballot shouldn't be hard for him to come by in his first year. So, Walker's second year of eligibility will be the key to learning his future chances at being enshrined in Cooperstown. It will be a long, twilight struggle.
But why does Walker deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?
He hit a career .313/.400/.565 line with 383 home runs, 1311 RBI and 230 stolen bases. He was the 1997 National League MVP, a seven-time Gold Glove winner in right field, a three-time NL batting crown winner and a five-time All-Star. But then you look at his career games played and see that his season-high in games played was 153 in his 1997 MVP season. It makes one wonder how much better his numbers could have been. Would he have reached 500 home runs?
But Hall of Fame voting isn't based on what might have been (otherwise, Don Mattingly would already have made it in). No, the thing that will make voters look away from Walker is that he played a good number of his games at Coors Field, which for most of Walker's career was a launching pad for offense. However, Hall of Fame voter Jayson Stark, who gave his vote to Walker, offers a compelling case for Walker's eventual candidacy. Here's a small sample:
So the first thing I did was look at adjusted OPS+, which compensates for both ballpark and era. And what did I find? That Walker racked up an OPS+ of 150 or higher (meaning he was at least 50 percent more productive than your average hitter) in six different seasons of at least 400 plate appearances. That's as many as A-Rod!
It won't be this season, it maybe next season or it could be 10 years from now, but Larry Walker will one day be in the Hall of Fame. As more players from the "Steroid Era" enter the balloting, Walker's career will hopefully pick up in the eyes of the voters.