Walker's totals slip in Hall of Fame voting
Longtime Rockies slugger named on 58 of 571 ballots, will be considered again
Former Rockies great Larry Walker did not garner nearly enough votes for Hall of Fame entry this year, but the former MVP's 10.2 percent in his fourth year on the ballot was enough to keep him on for another go-around.
Walker, who spent 10 of his 17 Major League seasons in Colorado, received a vote on 58 of the 571 ballots cast. Three players -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas (all on their first try) -- were selected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America to join Veterans Committee inductees Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre in this year's induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., on July 27.
To receive induction, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote in 15 seasons of ballot eligibility. If any year a player receives less than 5 percent, he is removed from the ballot.
Walker's vote percentage took a plunge this season -- from 20.3 percent in 2011, 22.9 percent in 2012 and 21.6 percent in 2013 -- but that could be attributed to the loaded ballot and the 10-vote limit to which voters must adhere.
It was a star-studded ballot this season, with Craig Biggio (74.8 percent) and Mike Piazza (62.2 percent) also coming close. Jack Morris (61.5 percent) missed out in his final year on the ballot. It was just the second time since the Hall's first class in 1936 that three first-ballot players were selected (also in 1999: Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount).
Walker was signed by the Montreal Expos as an amateur free agent in 1984 and debuted in 1989. He finished seventh in the 1990 Rookie of the Year voting in his first full season and received his first All-Star nod, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger following a standout 1992 season.
In 1995, he signed as a free agent with Colorado, where he became one of the franchise's most accomplished hitters. While with the Rockies, he was elected to four All-Star teams, won five Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers and won the 1997 National League MVP. In that season, he hit a remarkable .366 with 49 home runs, 130 RBIs and a 1.172 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
One thing that no doubt works against Walker's Hall of Fame case is his many years hitting in the Denver altitude, where he was a lifetime .381 hitter with a career .710 slugging percentage at Coors Field. In contrast, he had a .518 slugging percentage at Montreal's Olympic Stadium and a .536 percentage at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, the two other parks he called home in his career.
Still, Walker is the franchise's all-time leader in single-season WAR (wins above replacement, 9.8 in 1997), career batting average (.334), single-season batting average (.379 in 1999), career on-base percentage (.426), career slugging percentage (.618) and career OPS (1.044).
He is second only to the recently retired Todd Helton in career games played, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, walks and total bases.