In the team’s 26-year history, the Colorado Rockies have never had a player inducted to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Until now. Today, on his tenth-and-final year on the ballot, former Rockies right fielder Larry Walker was voted into Cooperstown with 76.6 percent of the vote, barely meeting the 75 percent threshold.
As expected, the margin by which he entered the Hall was thin, as pundits and baseball writers across the country have spent the past several weeks tracking ballots to predict his odds. Only one other player met the threshold for enshrinement this year; in his first year eligible, former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter appeared on nearly 100 percent of voters’ ballots (99.7 percent).
The Canadian-born Walker also played for the Montreal Expos (1989–94) and the St. Louis Cardinals (2004–05), but by far his most productive seasons came during the decade when he wore a Rockies uniform. He won the National League Most Valuable Player Award and led the NL in home runs in 1997; he won the MLB Batting Title (highest average) in 1998, 1999, and 2001; he was selected to the All Star game four times as a Rockies (and once as an Expo); and he won five of his seven gold gloves playing right field in Colorado.
Over his 17-year career, Walker hit 383 home runs, tallied 2,160 hits, drove in 1,311 runs, stole 230 bases, and posted a .313 batting average. He actually ranks just ahead of Jeter in wins above replacement (WAR). If there was ever a Rockies player worthy of the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s Larry Walker. And had he not been elected this year, he would have fallen off the ballot for good.
His selection comes despite the fact that many baseball writers—and voters—have argued he was merely a creation of Coors Field, that had he played elsewhere, his career numbers would have been worse.
This news comes as a relief for Rockies fans amidst what has been a frustrating offseason. Since the team wrapped up it’s near-last place season (71–91) last fall, the front office has done little to improve the on-field product. And just last night, star third basemen Nolan Arenado told reporters he feels “disrespected” by general manager Jeff Bridich, who considered trading him and has done little to improve the talent around him.
Had Walker missed out on Hall of Fame induction, this would have surely marked a new low for fans. Walker wasn’t the only Rockies player on the ballot. Todd Helton, who played 17 seasons (all for Colorado), received 29.2 percent of votes in his second year on the ballot.