Five Reasons Larry Walker Deserves Hall of Fame Recognition
INDIANAPOLIS - Before he was known as a five-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger winner and the 1997 NL MVP, Larry Walker was an Indianapolis Indian.
He spent the majority of the 1989 summer donning a Tribe uniform and led the team with 36 stolen bases through 114 games. In that time, the outfielder hit .270 (104-for-385) with 12 home runs and 59 RBI.
Walker was promoted to Montreal in August and made his major league debut on Aug. 16, where he went 1-for-1 with three walks and two runs scored against San Francisco. He was a big leaguer for the next 17 years and went on to be one of the best all-around players in the game.
Eleven Indians have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the last being Randy Johnson in 2015. Before the BBWAA makes its decision final on Tuesday, Jan. 21, here's a look back at Walker's Hall of Fame-worthy career with five reasons he should be part of the 2020 class.
72.7 Career WAR
According to Baseball Reference, Walker's career WAR is 72.7 and ranks fourth in this year's Hall of Fame ballot, trailing only Barry Bonds (162.8), Roger Clemens (139.2) and Curt Schilling (79.5). Notably, it is higher than Derek Jeter's WAR of 72.4 despite Jeter's career lasting three more years than Walker's.
His WAR isn't higher than just those on the ballot. Walker ranks higher in career WAR than Hall of Fame outfielders Tim Raines (69.4), Tony Gwynn (69.2), Andre Dawson (64.8), Dave Winfield (64.2) and Vladimir Guerrero (59.4).
In his career, he hit more than 300 home runs, stole over 200 bases and had an OPS over .950. Bonds was the only other player to do so. Walker's career OPS of .965 ranks 15th all-time, and his OPS on the road (.865) is higher than seven current Hall of Famers.
1997 NL MVP
Walker's career batting average of .313 (2160-for-6907) ranks second among position players on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot behind only Todd Helton (.316).
He hit above the .300 mark six consecutive seasons with the Rockies, beginning with his 1997 National League MVP season. He hit .366 (208-for-568) and led Major League Baseball with a .720 slugging percentage, 1.172 OPS and 99 extra-base hits. His 49 home runs for the year ranked third in the majors behind Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr.
Walker earned his second Silver Slugger that season, his first coming in 1992 when he hit .301 (159-for-528) with 23 home runs.
Three-Time NL Batting Champion
In 1998, Walker won his first of three career NL batting titles with a .363 average (165-for-464). Then in 1999, he again led the big leagues with a .379 average (166-for-438) and a 1.168 OPS before going on to win his third batting title in 2001. He also won his third and final Silver Slugger award in '99.
He is one of five players since 1940 to bat .379 or greater in a single season, joining Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Tony Gwynn, George Brett and Rod Carew.
150 Career Assists from Right Field
Walker spent most of his career in right field and registered 150 assists from that position alone.
He has more career assists in right field than 19 Hall of Famers. From that list, the most notable names are Tony Gwynn, Al Kaline, Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, Vladimir Guerrero, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Ty Cobb.
Seven Gold Gloves
In the outfield, Walker's defense matched his bat. He won seven Gold Gloves in an 11-year span, two with the Expos and five with the Rockies.
His first Gold Glove came in 1992 with Montreal. He started in right field for 139 games and tallied a .993 fielding percentage. He set his career-high single-season .994 fielding percentage in 1996 (for more than 500.0 innings at a position) and matched it between both corner outfield positions in 2000.
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