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Baseball Hall of Fame results provide good and bad news for Larry Walker

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All is not lost for Larry—but time is running out

On Wednesday the Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced the voting results for the Hall of Fame class of 2018. While it was a large class, as expected, former Rockies great Larry Walker still couldn’t find his way in on this go around (also as expected). As with most things in life, there is good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

The Bad News

More Hall of Fame voters voted for Omar Vizquel in his first year on the ballot than Larry Walker in his eighth. This is perplexing for a number of reasons, but my doctor says I need to watch my blood pressure so I'll summarize by saying Vizquel falls well short of Hall of Fame standards by Jay Jaffe's JAWS score, while Larry Walker already sits above that standard. In fact...

The Good News

He's about to improve in that category. One of the players who was elected in this year’s class was Vladimir Guerrero. The 16-year outfielder certainly had a memorable career, both for his personality and free swinging ways. This is good news for Larry not only because a former Expos teammate will be enshrined, but because they have very similar cases for induction. With Guerrero in, Walker’s case gets better because he actually compares more favorably to current Hall of Famers than he did before Guerrero’s election. But...

The Bad News

Short of Guerrero pulling a Rudy and having Walker enshrined in his place, Walker will go into 2019 needing to gain a lot of votes to earn the 75% of ballots required for entry into Cooperstown. It would be an unprecedented leap. But that’s okay because...

The Good News

Walker received a big boost over last year. His 34.1% of the ballot represents a 12.2% increase over his 21.9% last year, which was a 6.4% increase from 2016. This is not insignificant jump for a player who has now been on the ballot for eight years. Unfortunately...

The Bad News

The Hall of Fame recently reduced the years of eligibility for a player from 15 years to just ten years. That means Walker has just two more cycles to gain 173 votes in order to be inducted by the BBWAA. And history is not on his side. From Hall of Fame guru Jay Jaffe:

Since 1966, the lowest percentage any candidate has received in year seven while still being elected by the writers is Bert Blylven (35.4%), who needed 14 years to gain entry, time that Walker doesn’t have given an eligibility window that’s been truncated to 10 years. Blyleven also has the distinction of the lowest such percentage by any writer-elected candidate in his fourth-to-last year of eligibility, 62.7%. Walker is a long ways off from either figure.

I’ll admit, that’s pretty bad. However...

The Good News

The BBWAA has been on a healthy kick of electing players. The writers have elected 16 in the past five years, more than they elected between 2003 and 2013. In fact, more players have been inducted over the past five years than any other five years stretch in the Hall’s history. Because the writers have only ten available votes per ballot, many are forced to leave players they would otherwise consider Hall of Famers off their ballots. The more players elected means more available votes for Walker. Then again...

The Bad News

One of the primary reasons the ballot had grown so crowded is the presence of players with Hall of Fame caliber numbers who have been tainted by the mark of steroids (see: Bonds, Barry; Clemens, Roger). These, along with members with complicated cases like Edgar Martinez or Mike Mussina are still on the ballot. More deserving candidates means some writers may continue to crowd out Walker. But all is not lost...

The Good News

These players have gained steam. Bonds went from 53.8% to 56.4% and Clemens from 54.1% to 57.3%, almost entirely from the 11 first time voters; it’s possible they could get another large boost for next year’s ballot. Martinez went from 58.6% to 70.4% and 2019 will be his last year of eligibility, whether he earns election or not (and with just 20 votes to gain, he seems like a lock). And with Mussina (63.5%) also right on the edge, Walker could stand to gain some votes over the next two years. Alas...

The Bad News

The incoming class of 2019 has a lot of deserving players among their ranks. Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Andy Pettitte, and Lance Berkman will likely join the ballot. And while Rivera and Halladay seem like prime candidates to go in on the first ballot, there are even more coming in 2020, Walker’s final year on the ballot, like Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano.

Add it all up and it makes it hard to see a clear path to 173 more votes for Larry Walker. Stranger things have happened over the past few years and it’s possible that Purple Row’s Larry Walker Weeks have some sort of impact (right?).

Walker has stated in the past that his goal is to remain on the ballot for the entirety of his eligibility. That’s a certainty at this point, but he deserves better.