Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Break Out the Canadian Tuxedos!

Really a great day! I'm a big fan of Larry Walker, and finding out that he's been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year of eligibility is just awesome. Walker himself was humble in the hours leading up to the announcement, thanking fans and his many advocates for their kind words and support. 

Young Larry was hoping to be a Goalie in the NHL, but baseball called to him instead. Growing up in Canada, baseball was an afterthought to many. The harsh, long winters limited opportunities and interest in the sport for many. Walker would later recall that before joining the Expos' minor league system, he'd never seen anyone throw a forkball, or slider, or even a decent curveball. He was a dead red fastball hitter, but lacked plate discipline and struggled mightily to hit anything else. Working first with Ken Brett, then Ralph Rowe, Walker became a great hitter through a tireless work ethic. He would return every year to the Florida Instructional League, even taking residence in the area to continue to fine tune his swing and approach at the plate.

What Walker didn't have to learn on the job was athleticism. He was rangy in right field and dangerous on the bases. Over his career he'd steal 230 bases and win 7 Gold Gloves.

His career in Montreal ended following the 1994 season. He led the NL in doubles that season, and hit a then career-high .322 with a .382 OBP. He had a perfect mix of power and speed, hitting 99 homers and stealing 98 bases with the Expos over 6 seasons, earning 2 Gold Gloves and appearing in his first All-Star game.

Walker would really take off in Colorado. His first full season in Colorado he was the NL leader in Outfield Assists, and finished 7th in the MVP voting. People will point to Colorado as an extreme hitter's park, and note that Walker's numbers started going up right when he arrived in the Rockies. I would agree that Coors Field can inflate numbers, but Walker was just hitting his prime (1995 was his age 28 season) and he hit very well on the road as well.

Walker had ridiculous numbers in Colorado, ran away with the MVP award in 1997 with a triple slash of .366/.452/.720. He slugged .720! He was the first player to slug over .700 and steal 30 bases in a season. He led the NL with 49 Homers, and 409 Total bases. He won another Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and made his 2nd All-Star team. He'd win the NL batting title 3 of the next 4 seasons. In 1999, he was the Triple Slash Triple Crown winner, leading the league in batting average, OBP, and Slugging. Over his 10 seasons with Colorado, he slugged .610.

He would finally play in a World Series with the Cardinals in 2004. Now away from Coors, he still posted an OPS+ of 134 in his final 2 seasons. His career Road OPS is higher than Roberto Clemente,  Ken Griffey, Jr. along with many others he will be joining in the Hall.

Congratulations to Larry Walker, the 2nd Canadian player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame!


  1. Walker was always one of my favorites, too. Very toolsy guy who figured it all out. That doesn't happen very often, but when it does you have a special kind of player. Walker was certainly that.
    0.720 Slugging? Most middle infielders don't get to a 0.720 OPS. Crazy!

  2. Very happy to see him finally get in. The fact about his road OPS being above Griffey and Clemente is great trivia.

  3. A canadian tux would be an upgrade of walker' s spongebob outfit he was wearing when he got the (well deserved) call.