The 2020 Hall of Fame announcement just took place and to the surprise of no one, Derek Jeter headlines the class. He is joined by outfielder Larry Walker. They were the only two players that got enough votes to earn enshrinement this summer.
Derek Jeter is clearly a hall of famer. He’s not the greatest player ever, even if he was voted on as if he belongs in the class of those who are – but he’s a hall of famer and him getting in is not an issue at all. One voter out of the 397 voters declined to vote for Jeter. We don’t know who that non-vote was from at this point. What we do know is that Jeter received a higher percentage of votes than anyone not named Mariano Rivera, ever.
We also know that Derek Jeter was a heck of a ballplayer. He spent 20 years playing in the Major Leagues from 1995-2014 and every single game came with the New York Yankees. He led the league in plate appearances five times, runs once, and hits twice. His career line ended at .310/.377/.440. He hit over .320 seven times in his career, with a best .349 mark in the 1999 season. Along the way he collected 3465 hits – including 544 doubles, 66 triples, and 260 home runs. He also walked 1082 times in his career. He was the rookie of the year, a 14-time All-Star, a 5-time World Series winner, and regardless of how everyone seems to feel about his defense, was voted on as a 5-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop. Now The Captain can put Baseball Hall of Famer on his resume.
Larry Walker. This was a close one. Walker was in his final year of eligibility. The publicly available votes had him above the 75% mark, but not by a lot. And the private votes have the tendency to bring totals down. It was going to be close for Walker, and it was. He got six more votes than he needed to and now gets to stand alongside the all-time greats in Cooperstown.
From 1989-2005, Larry Walker hit .313/.400/.565. Over his 17 year career he led the league in doubles once, and in home runs once. From 1998-2001 he led the league in average three times, including a career best .379 mark in 1999. Walker also led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 1997 and 1999. In an 8-year span from 1997-2004 he hit an absurd .340/.437/.621 over 1000 games.
The work done against Walker’s case was that he benefited from Coors Field. And, well yes, of course he did. To argue otherwise would be insane. But we also know that outside of Coors Field he was a very, very good hitter. His last year before heading to Colorado he put up a .981 OPS for the Expos. His final two seasons of his career came with St. Louis where he posted a .908 OPS. Larry Walker was an elite level hitter, with or without Coors Field. He was also one of the better defenders at his position for a large part of his career. Walker would rack up seven Gold Gloves to go along with five All-Star selections. He also brought home the 1997 MVP Award.
Three former Cincinnati Reds were also on the ballot and all of them received votes. Scott Rolen continues his climb, getting 140 votes and 35.3% in his third year on the ballot. Paul Konerko played in 26 whole games as a Red back in 1998, and he got 10 votes – good for 2.5% of the vote. And then there’s Adam Dunn, who got a single vote on a ballot. To remain on the ballot moving forward a player must receive 5% of all votes, meaning that both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will no longer be on future ballots. You can see the entire ballot, and voting percentages here.
Looking forward to the 2021 ballot, there are a few former Reds that will be eligible for the first time. Aaron Harang, Jeremy Affeldt, Grant Balfour, Jason Marquis, Kevin Gregg, and Skip Schumaker will all be among the first timers.