clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Larry Walker 'a cut above' other players of his era, Hall of Famer Tom Glavine says

New, comments

Tom Glavine and Terry Francona gave us their thoughts on the career of a Rockies legend.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

It's no secret that the people involved with this publication -- well, most of them -- are big-time advocates for former Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker to one day be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sadly, only 15.5 percent of 440 BBWAA members who submitted ballots agree with that sentiment.

But what about people who have actually laced 'em up? What do they think?

If the opinions of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine and Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona are any indication, it appears Walker is being wildly underrated by the voters.

"We are starting to have some Hall of Fame guys from my era, and certainly Larry is one of those guys who, over the course of his career, I took notice of," Glavine told Purple Row during a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "I knew where he was, I knew who he was and I knew what I needed to do to try and not let him beat me in a ball game."

"I think that -- like I said earlier in regards to Mike Piazza -- when you start getting guys to identify you as that kind of player, you're a special player; you're a cut above most of the other guys," Glavine added.

Only eight hitters faced Glavine more times than Walker, who hit .301/.370/.506 in 92 career plate appearances against the legendary left-hander. Glavine was otherwise tough on same-handed hitters, holding them to a .262/.328/.368 line over parts of 22 big league seasons.

"He hit left-on-left well, he hit righties well -- he was just a solid player," Glavine recalled. "Whether he was in Montreal or in Colorado, he was a guy you didn't want to be able to beat you."

Of course, the home park issue is arguably the biggest thing voters point to when opting to leave Walker off of their ballots. Walker used the advantageous hitting environment at Coors Field to post an absurd .381/.462/.710 line in more than 2,500 trips to the plate at 20th and Blake.

But Francona doesn't believe Walker -- a seven-time Gold Glover, five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and 1997 National League Most Valuable Player -- should be dismissed because of his home park.

"I don't know that I would want to penalize somebody for where they played," Francona explained. "That's not his fault."

Francona went on to compare Walker's situation to designated hitters and poor defensive players who are, or someday will be, enshrined in Cooperstown as a result of doing more than enough in one facet of the game. One thing Walker should have going for him is that he was great in multiple ways.

"What really jumped out at me with Larry that a lot of people don't talk about was his ability as a baserunner," Francona said. "He was such a good baserunner, like his head was on a swivel. His talent was obvious."

But was that talent Hall-worthy? Neither Glavine nor Francona would come out and say it directly.

"He was certainly one of the better players in our era," Glavine said. "I can't speak to you numbers-wise; to be perfectly honest with you, I haven't studied too many guys' numbers. I look at it like, when I played against him he was a damn good player."

For the record, Walker's numbers largely back up Glavine's assessment. There aren't a lot of metrics that suggest "Booger" shouldn't get more consideration for Cooperstown.

"When he was in his prime and he was healthy he was as good as anybody," Francona, who led the 2004 Boston Red Sox to a World Series victory over Walker and the St. Louis Cardinals, opined. "Does that make him a Hall of Famer? I don't know, I don't sit around and pay attention to that enough."

"I sit around during the winter and try and figure out how the Indians are going to try and get better. So, I'm sure there are people that are [paying attention], and I think it makes for a fascinating conversation," he added.

"That is part of what makes baseball so special."

***

Special thanks to Drew Creasman for participating in the call, and to Cameron Goeldner for transcribing it.