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Thursday Rockpile: Could Walker be crowded off HOF ballot for good?

Recently published Hall of Fame ballots are showing disturbing signs that one of Colorado's all time greats might not get another shot after this year.

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If Jack Morris's continued strong candidacy results in Larry Walker losing out on a HOF chance, I'll be one unhappy camper.
If Jack Morris's continued strong candidacy results in Larry Walker losing out on a HOF chance, I'll be one unhappy camper.

In Jayson Stark's annual "random stuff in baseball is random" column (I might be paraphrasing that,) there are a few Rockies 2012 notes, and as you can expect from a 64 win season, none of them are really that pleasant to reminisce on, like that game against Mat Latos here in Cincy where the Rox hit five homers and still lost, as Jamie Moyer gave up four. Yeah, I'm still looking for a reason to think fondly on that or other Rockies 2012 experiences. Not really coming up with anything yet. Give me some time.

I do look fondly on the Rockies of my youth, and as such I'm a big proponent for Larry Walker's Hall of Fame candidacy, which I fear may wind up having to wait until it's in the hands of the veterans committee given the angst the BBWAA has with the PED era of the 1990's and early 2000's. Walker to me is clearly deserving given how the accomplishments in the entirety of his career stack up well with many outfielders already in the Hall, and outshine all but a couple that have been excluded to date.

Last year, baseball writers only voted in one of several deserving candidates on their ballot, Barry Larkin, and with a large influx of all time elites in the sport becoming eligible this year and next, some otherwise deserving players may get crowded off the ten player list and/or fall below the 5% threshold needed to remain on the ballot. Walker may find himself in this camp given that there are several players on the ballot now that should get into the Hall ahead of him, even though he too clearly should get in. If we go strictly by Baseball-Reference's WAR, Walker would be the fifth most deserving candidate this year behind Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell and Curt Schilling.

However, I could see cases made for four of the players ranked below him in WAR, Allan Trammell, Tim Raines, Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, as being more worthy. I believe those cases myself with the Trammell and Raines. Added to that, you also have players like Edgar Martinez, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire who collected the better looking round numbers on offense (I see Piazza in this category too) but weren't the complete package players that Walker, Raines, Trammell or Kenny Lofton were. You can't see complete offensive and defensive packages on a standard stat sheet, but you can see 500 HR's or 3000 hits. And then you have a player like Jack Morris, who's neither deserving with the SABR accomplishments nor the traditional numbers the writers used to like, but might get voted in anyway because he was decent enough on good teams and the writers really like him.

All told, if we go down to Morris on that WAR list, there are 22 players on the ballot that are within the range of Hall consideration right now. And while former Rockie Steve Finley and Julio Franco will most certainly not get enough support to last past this first time on the ballot, I've seen written cases made for the other 20. Morris, the worst of those 20, had the most support from writers last year of the carryovers, and he's going to take up space on more than half the ballots that should go to a more deserving player like Walker. There are going to be many ballots that don't use the full ten votes they're given, even though this is a year when most writers almost certainly should to clear the backlog. The threat to a player like Walker of dropping off the ballot, who didn't play in a big baseball media market until the very end of his career (and whose career gets misunderstood for playing in Denver for much of it) is very large. There's also the Troy Renck argument against Walker, that he just didn't pass some subjective untold eyeball test standard of baseball drive to be a real Hall of Famer.

Since Walker doesn't have the SABR community's support that helped players like Bert Blyleven, he and Lofton may be joining Lou Whitaker soon as prime examples of why the current sanctimonious and completely subjective BBWAA needs to get out of the Hall vote.

A sample of recent no on Walker votes:

Tim Kawakami

Jim Caple - I don't like Caple's ballot for the inclusion of Morris over Walker, but I'm glad he's railing against the 10 player limit.

Pete Abraham - a case where a writer should use all 10 of his votes, but doesn't.

Mark Faller - This idiot with a ballot somehow believes he's not hurting any player's legacy by not voting.