Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Two for the Hall

The writers elected two retired players to baseball's Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter sailed in on the first ballot. one vote shy of unanimity; we will now be treated to a cavalacade of outrage that any voter would dare leave Jetes off his (or her) ballot.

Also selected, barely, on his 10th and final chance with the BBWAA, was Larry Walker, the Canadian -born outfielder whose numbers went from very good with Montreal in his early-to-mid 20s to something completely different in Colorado.

It took Walker a decade to get past the understandable wariness. Coors Field is such an extreme environment, so favorable to hitters, that entire mines are required for the metaphoric grain-of-salt skepticism. And writers have had no shortage of equally- or better-justified candidacies to support in recent elections.

Jeter compiled 72.4 WAR (wins above replacement) over the course of his 20-year career (as figured by Baseball Reference's formula). Walker, whose talents had a different shape, had 72.7 WAR in 17 seasons. That's a pretty good match.

That Jeter's election wasn't unanimous, that it took Walker the full 10 years to get to 75 percent -- these things ultimately don't matter. Future visitors to the Hall's plaque room in Cooperstown will find the two side by side. Let us ignore any mock outrage and celebrate their brilliant play.

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