Larry Walker is a high-end Hall of Fame candidate. But not everyone seems to have figured that out yet.
This year, Bill James introduced a new Hall of Fame Value Standard in the 2019 Baseball Handbook (excerpted here). The methodology combines James’ Win Shares metric with four times Wins Above Replacement into one number. The cutoff score for Hall of Fame worthiness is 500.
Walker clears the bar with plenty of room to spare, at 599.4. That puts him right in line with Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson (599.2) and places him just outside the top 100 in that stat all-time. He’s higher than Edgar Martinez by about 20 points, though Walker’s vote total is not close to Martinez’s.
Walker is hindered by a perception that his numbers were inflated by playing regularly in Coors Field for much of his career. From 1995 to 2002, he slashed .341/.425/.636, averaging 30 home runs and 124 games per season. By the Jamesian metric Offensive Winning Percentage, a team of nine Walkers at the plate (along with average pitching and defense) would have won nearly 75 percent of the time. That ranks 29th all-time.
Walker did have a strong defensive reputation, though most of his seasons predate Defensive Runs Saved (which was devised in 2003). He did tally 10 DRS in 2003 and did well in the Total Zone Runs stat that is a predecessor to Defensive Runs Saved. Overall, he ranks eighth among right fielders in the Total Zone metric.
Walker’s standing as Hall of Fame worthy may be slightly hindered by where he played, but in the end, it’s not debatable that he put up numbers that match up well among others who have been enshrined.