Posted By Jeff Fletcher on December 24, 2011 12:15 pm
The last two for me are Larry Walker and Bernie Williams. I had a shot at Walker last year and did not vote for him, but enough people I respect have voted for him, so I feel I ought to at least give him another look.
For starters, there is no way to consider Walker without considering Coors Field. The easiest way to do that is just to use his career road numbers. For his career on the road, Walker was .278/.370/.495, with an OPS of .865. He played just about 1,000 road games, so I decided that Sea Level Larry would have those numbers over about 2,000 games. So, here are the guys who played roughly in his era (1975-2011), with at least 1,900 games, and an OPS between .850 and .880:
There are some good players on there, some HOFers, but not many. If you pick the corner outfielders off that list, you get Bobby Abreu, Sammy Sosa, Ellis Burks, Jim Rice, Shawn Green and Dwight Evans. One of those guys, Rice, is in the Hall, and it took him 15 years to get there and a lot of people don’t think he should have made it all.
I don’t think it’s fair to discount Walker’s entire home career, because he did do very well on the road in a few of those monster Coors Field years. That would imply that maybe Walker was just a much better hitter during those years instead of simply being the same hitter, inflated by Coors. Probably both factors were at play.
Walker was also a very good outfielder, so I’ll give him some points for that.
However, I still see him as a borderline guy. Even if you just go by straight OPS+ (which does account for ballparks, but not as much as it should in the case of Coors IMO), Walker still ranks just 13th among corner outfielders during his prime, which was 1992 to 2002.
I try not to vote for borderline guys, so I won’t be voting for Walker.
Only one guy left: Bernie Williams.