On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced its most recent Hall of Fame election results. Per the rules, a player needs at least 75 percent of the vote in order to be enshrined, and at least five percent to remain on the ballot. Players are limited to 10 years on the ballot before their candidacy becomes subject to the whims of a Veterans Committee. No player had as much at stake as Larry Walker, who faced a close call in what was his 10th and final year on the ballot.
Walker edged the 75-percent threshold by a slim margin, receiving 76.6 percent of the vote. That's six more votes than the minimum for enshrinement.
Walker's candidacy had been polarizing for a few reasons, as summed up recently by our Matt Snyder. The main brickbat lobbed in his direction concerned the boost he received from playing his home games at Coors Field for more than half his career. The other was about his durability. Walker played in more than 140 games just four times, and in more than 150 only once.
Here's what Snyder concluded:
Walker isn't an inner-circle all-timer like Ruth or Aaron, but the Hall of Fame is much more than that. Walker is better than many of the players already enshrined and would bring the standard of the Hall of Fame right fielder up. He should be inducted this year. Let's hope he is. All we know right now is it's going to be really close.
Walker finished his career having hit .313/.400/.565 (141 OPS+) with 383 home runs and 230 stolen bases. He accumulated 72.7 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference's calculations. It's worth noting that Walker's total and peak WAR tallies were right in line with the average right fielder already inducted into Cooperstown.
Derek Jeter, one vote shy of being unanimous, was also voted into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday night. Walker, Jeter, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller make up the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame class.
Walker spent most of his career with the Colorado Rockies, but he originally broke into the majors with the Montreal Expos. He also spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won the 1997 Most Valuable Player Award, three Gold Gloves, and he made five All-Star Games.