Canada

Rick Zamperin: Canadian Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer in my book

It is time for Cooperstown to welcome another great Canadian Major League Baseball player.

When the Baseball Hall of Fame introduces its latest group of inductees Tuesday evening, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter will headline the class of 2020.

The only question is whether or not Jeter’s enshrinement will be unanimous, just like former teammate — and the game’s best-ever closer — Mariano Rivera’s in 2019.

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But this should also be the year that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elects Maple Ridge, B.C.’s Larry Walker.

This marks the 10th and final year of Walker’s voting eligibility, and while, yes, he can still gain entry into Cooperstown with a thumbs up from the veteran’s committee, Walker deserves to be voted in.

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Walker never won a World Series during his 17-year big league career but in a sport that is dominated by personal statistics, his numbers are Hall of Fame-worthy.

The 1997 National League MVP won three batting crowns (1998, 1999 and 2001), was a five-time all-star, won seven Gold Glove Awards playing right field and ended his career with a .313 average, 383 home runs and 1,311 runs batted in.

The knock against Walker is that his stats were padded by playing the bulk of his career in hitter-friendly Coors Field as a member of the Colorado Rockies.

Walker batted .348 on the road and .278 at home throughout his career, hit 47 more home runs and had 183 more RBI at home.

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Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Jim Rice has similar career stats (.298, 382 HR, 1,451 RBI) to Walker and benefited from playing at Fenway Park with its Green Monster.

Rice’s home stats also dwarf his road numbers, and he is a Hall of Famer.

The great Ferguson Jenkins was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1991 and is the only Canadian in Cooperstown.

Now it is time for Larry Walker to join him.