My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
Any hopes that I had for Canadian Larry Walker receiving more Hall of Fame support from baseball writers this year were dashed this morning when I read about the ballots cast by 15 MLB.com scribes. Unbelievably, not one of them voted for Walker. The three-time batting champ and seven-time Gold Glove winner from Maple Ridge, B.C. was named on just 22.9 per cent of writers’ ballots.
As expected, Barry Larkin was the only player elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). A 12-time all-star, nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner and 1995 National League MVP, Larkin is definitely a worthy inductee. For the record, Larkin hit .272 and recorded 128 hits in 124 games against the Montreal Expos. He never played against the Blue Jays.
You know you’ve officially graduated into adulthood when you utter the phrase, “Those crazy kids.” That’s what I find myself saying when I read Brett Lawrie’s Twitter exchanges with his teammates. I love Lawrie’s energy and intensity, but I can’t say I always understand his tweets.
I’m surprised there’s not more of an uproar from Jays fans about the Darren Oliver signing. Sure, the team needed a left-hander for the bullpen, but paying $4 million to a 41-year-old southpaw who averages a batter or two per outing seems exorbitant.
I’ve written a lot about the former Blue Jays on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, but one of the ex-Jays I’ve omitted from my analysis is Ruben Sierra. Sierra, who spent a forgettable 14 games with Toronto in 1997, was on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year and failed to garner a single vote.
I like the idea of a reality show about the 2012 Florida Marlins proposed by my writing colleague Landon Evanson. One of his suggested titles: The Old Man and the Z – the show would capture the interactions between the volatile Ozzie Guillen and the equally temperamental Carlos Zambrano. Sounds like Celebrity Apprentice set in a baseball clubhouse.
One of my pet peeves is listening to people gripe about how much big league players make, but even I think it’s ridiculous that in this economy, the Chicago Cubs can afford to pay Carlos Zambrano $15.5 million not to pitch for them in 2012.
Too bad Mark Teahen has been designated for that 41yr old! Mark will sill make $5.5M this year, so he will be ok.
Walker climbed just a bit. That’s better than going down like a few of them did. Hard to beleive that McGriff isn’t getting the votes. I wonder if 7 more homeruns would have him in the Hall of Fame!
Thanks for the comment. I think another problem with McGriff is that he suffers from an identity crisis amongst voters. He played with six different teams and none for more than five years. I think there is a misconception that he was sort of a journeyman first baseman, which is far from the truth.
Larkin gets four times the votes that Larry Walker does? Are you kidding me? Bagwell gets two-and-a-half times?? Really?? All three of them each won one MVP Award. I’m not knocking either Larkin’s enshrinement or Bagwell’s candidacy, but let’s get Walker where he belongs.
Larkin and Bagwell each had about 200 more career hits than Walker, but each played about 200 more games. Walker had a higher career batting average and OPS than both. Okay, Larkin was an 12-time All-Star (Walker-5) and won 9 Silver Sluggers (Walker-3). Larkin also had a 150 more stolen bases than Walker, but Walker hit almost 200 more homeruns, not to mention 350 more RBI. Larkin won 3 Gold Gloves, Walker won 7. Larkin never won a batting title, Walker won 3. Walker was punished by playing in the obscurity of Montreal and Colorado, but that shouldn’t be held against him. And PLEASE, don’t play the “Colorado air” card here … how many of Walker’s 152 homers in Colorado landed in the front row? And in Walker’s MVP year, he hit more jacks on the road than he did at home. On top of everything else, I can verify for a fact that Walker never touched the juice, in a steroid era whereby at least 105 players did.
Congrats to Larkin and good luck to Bagwell – but Walker absolutely belongs in the same conversation!
President & CEO
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
Totally agree, Tom. I knew Walker wasn’t going to fare well today when I saw that not one of the 15 MLB.com writers voted for Walker. Walker needs a champion, someone who will set up a website and lobby the writers. There is a great online campaign out there for Raines.
Let’s get one going, Kevin. Walker for the Hall, I’m down. Let me know!
Money and baseball continues to be the topic most discussed since the sport started charging admission. It is difficult for fans of the game to complain about how much a player makes since they are not paying (not directly). If Oliver closes out a few innings and strands some late-inning baserunners (where the Jays failed last season) then the $4M is an investment. At this point it is too early to tell.
I have to agree with you Kevin about Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, Ricky Romero and the rest! These guys are having a great time while doing the job. Did you see them at the Ottawa Senators game? There is nothing wrong with that and I agree it is fun to watch.
$4 million to me is too much for Oliver, but I guess we’ll see how effective he is in 2012. Anthopoulos is smarter than I am. The Jays’ young core is refreshing to watch that’s for sure. Thanks for the comment.
Walker wasn’t exactly the most pleasant guy with journalists so no wonder the ‘scribes’ are not falling all over themselves voting for him.
Back to Walker, let’s compare him to 2012 inductee Ron Santo
Hits > Santo 2,254, Walker 2160 (Santo played 355 more games)
HR > Santo 342, Walker 383
RBI > Santo 1331, Walker 1311
Batting Average > Santo .277, Walker .313
On Base Percentage > Santo .362, Walker .400
Slugging Percentage > Santo .464, Walker .565
OPS > Santo .826, Walker .965
Stolen Bases > Santo 35, Walker 230
All-Star Teams > Santo 9, Walker 5
MVPs > Santo 0, Walker 1
Gold Gloves > Santo 4, Walker 7
So … can you tell me again why Walker got 22% ???
I love that Brad Radke got two votes, but Ruben garnered exactly none. How is that possible?
There needs to be heavier checks and balances on writers, and let me tell you why. On a recent ballot, there was a writer who voted for B.J. Surhoff and Tino Martinez, but NOT Roberto Alomar or Bert Blyleven.
That guy should never vote again. Ever.
But the one good thing? Rock is up to 49% of the ballot, which offers hope for the future.
Thanks for the comment, Landon. I have to admit that I would be one of those sentimental voters who would’ve voted for John Olerud last year. I know he had no chance to get in, but it would have been my little tribute to an excellent career and a first class guy. Steve Rogers, arguably the greatest Expos pitcher ever, told me once during an interview that he was disappointed that he didn’t receive a single HOF vote. This has always stuck with me. These guys who have very good careers appreciate some sort of acknowledgement. I guess that’s how I would explain the votes for Surhoff and Martinez. But voting for them rather than Alomar and Blyleven is startling.
And yes, good news indeed for Raines.
From Devon Teeple:
I think the Darren Oliver move is just one of those off the radar. Will he be the missing piece for the Jays? No, he’s a journey-man landing in one more spot. And $4 million is ridiculous.
Appears Walker’s run to the Hall is not going to happen, at least for a while.
The reality tv show idea for the Marlins is great.
Thanks for sharing Kevin.
Thanks for the comment, Devon. I hope Walker is eventually inducted. Blyleven received around 17 per cent in his first year of eligibility, so maybe we can be hopeful for Walker?
I would have voted Walker ahead of Larkin. The Coors Field factor definitely hurt him. Still he was recognized at the time as being an elite player regardless of Coors. One of the smartest baserunners in the NL, a great outfielder, hit for average and power year after year. Injuries and the 1994 strike hurt his numbers as well. It was disappointing to see him so low.
Remember Sierra with Texas? He was a Blue Jay killer. His career tailed off, he was talked about so much early in his career, then he was traded to Oakland and suddenly he was just a guy.