Now that Whitey Herzog is safely in the Hall of Fame, who is the next Cardinal who will make it to baseball's hallowed ground?
Although he was only a Redbird for the tail end of his career, Larry Walker is the next former Cardinals player who will have a shot. He retired after the 2005 season, which means he's eligible for consideration in 2011.
Walker, statistically, is a borderline player. But he has enough accolades to merit a good look. And he's got the intangibles -- and the popularity -- to get in the Hall. Walker may also benefit from his reputation as a clean player who played in the steriod era.
He hit .313 for his career with 383 homers, 471 doubles and 62 triples. He won an MVP award and finished in the top 10 of MVP balloting our other times. He won seven Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers. He led the National League in batting average three times and in slugging percentage and on base percentage twice. From 1997-2002, Walker was the best player in baseball. He hit .353 and averaged 30 homers, 105 runs scored and 98 RBIs per season.
He gets bonus points for being a great leader, something the Cardinals can appreciate because they've lacked that quality since he's been gone.
I honestly believe Walker deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. St. Louis fans didn't see him at anywhere near his best in 2004 and 2005. But he was still very good at 38 years old. I wish his health would have allowed him to play another couple of years for the Cardinals.
Despite the fact that he said he wished he could have played in St. Louis his whole career, Walker didn't. I'm guessing if he does make the Hall, he'll make it as the first Colorado Rockie to be enshrined.