Former Cardinal Larry Walker elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in last year of eligibility

St. Louis Cardinals

Larry Walker #33 of the St. Louis Cardinals bats against the San Diego Padres during the Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 6, 2005 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals won 6-2. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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ST. LOUIS – The Baseball Writers of America’s 2020 Hall of Fame ballot results were announced Tuesday, and while the headliner of this year’s class is former New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, we learned that two Cardinals will be enshrined in Cooperstown next summer.

Outfielder Larry Walker, who spent parts of his final two big league seasons in St. Louis, was named on 76.6 percent of this year’s ballots. He needed to reach 75 percent for admission to Cooperstown in his 10th and final year for consideration. Walker joins former Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons, who was previously selected by the Veteran’s Committee for this year’s class.

While Walker had enjoyed strong support in ballots revealed publicly ahead of the official announcement, projections of the end result over the last few days had forecast the possibility of falling short, something he acknowledged on social media earlier Tuesday.

Instead, Walker will be the first player in Colorado Rockies’ history to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He was traded to the Cardinals in August 2004 as St. Louis was coming down the stretch run of a season that would end in the World Series against Boston. In 17 seasons for the Montreal Expos, Rockies and Cardinals, Walker hit for a .313 average, 2160 hits 383 home runs and 1311 runs batted in.  He was the NL MVP in 1997 and followed that up with batting titles in 1998 and 1999. He added a third in 2001.

All-time, Walker ranks 86th in Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (Jeter is at 88, with corner outfielders like Tony Gwynn at 109 and Andre Dawson is at 142). He’s had to contend with the fact that he played in Colorado where thin air has historically produced better offensive numbers and biased opinions. “I don’t think it will ever go away,” Walker told The Athletic last January. “But there are ballparks everywhere that benefit a player. I took advantage of Coors Field as much as I could. And I’m not sad about it.”

The 2020 class will be formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26 in Cooperstown.

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