I don't know how I missed this story when it came out a month ago. But I just came across an interesting piece on the internet.
In January, when the Hall of Fame ballots were revealed, Troy Renck wrote that he didn't vote for former Cardinals right fielder Larry Walker because he didn't think Walker "cared enough" to deserve a ballot.
Renck isn't just some amateur blogger sitting in his mom's basement. He's the Rockies beat writer for the Denver Post. So he's probably seen Walker play more ballgames than anyone outside of the 1997 National League MVP's immediate family.
He specifically states that he didn't think Walker was giving his best effort in his last years with Colorado OR in his two seasons with the Cardinals.
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Renck said Walker often chose not to play games when he otherwise might have been able. He deems that Walker's statistics fall just short of being a lock for the Hall of Fame and, if he would have played just a little more often, he would have made it.
Walker was a .313 career hitter with 383 homers and 471 doubles. He was an impressive all-around player who is one of the best I have ever seen -- corner outfielders who hustle as much as he did and who play as smart as he did are extremely rare. But I'm not sure that his numbers are anywhere close to being a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Would 500 homers be a sure thing in the steroid era? No one has accused Walker of cheating -- and Renck certainly isn't. But there are a number of players who have reached the 500 homer milestone without making it to enshrinement. I just don't think people are as eager to give players an automatic pass for reaching a certain standard like they used to.
It's a shame to see such a negative thing come out about Walker. I don't know if the folks in Colorado feel betrayed by their one time star. But his brief time in St. Louis was appreciated by me. I only wish it would have been longer.