Volume 93, Issue 4

Friday, June 4, 1999


No more grass stains for the Stangs

Werewolves set to prowl Labatt Park

Four quarters: examining gender and sport

Walker ain't no flash in the major league pan

Millenium Moment

Walker ain't no flash in the major league pan

Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies is the best player in Major League Baseball today. There. I said it and I'm not taking it back.

There are many reasons I could give for why he is the best player, like his Most Valuable Player award in 1997, or maybe his batting title in 1998. Or the fact his batting average currently leads the National League. However, the best way to illustrate why Walker is the best player is to compare him to the other top players in the league.

First let's compare him to St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Mark McGwire, the home run king. Walker may not be as productive in home runs, but he does have a higher average and is a more complete player than McGwire. Walker can steal bases and also simply get on base. When McGwire steps up to the plate, it's either a home run or a strike out.

Walker also outshines Big Mac with the glove. He is a far better defensive player than the muscle bound McGwire. Walker can make the great catches in the right/center gap and has a cannon for an arm.

The next player is outfielder Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs, the crown prince of home runs. Walker is a pure hitter in comparison to Sosa. He can hit to any field and hit for power as well as average. Sosa is a hot and cold hitter – he will do well for a few games then slump for a long time. Before last year's home run race, Sosa had been in a three-year slump at the plate.

McGwire and Sosa can be credited for saving the drowning Major Leagues, but after the home runs are counted Walker will still be consistently hitting and playing great baseball. He has proven himself as a three dimensional player – unlike the home run kings – and one who will put 110 per cent on the field every game.

The only person who can come close to Walker in terms of an all around player is Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners. He is the complete package both in the field and at the plate, but he can't hit for average the way Walker has done throughout his career. They also share a similar distinction – they are the only reason their teams can contend every year. When Walker was with the Montreal Expos, he carried them just like he does today for the Rockies.

For years, Griffey has been the only reason Seattle has received any press coverage, other than the early '90s grunge music fad from that region. But in the what-have-you-done-recently world of baseball, Walker easily overtakes Griffey. Walker's MVP year almost netted him a triple crown, (leading in home runs, runs batted in and average) and the batting crown last year proved he was not a flash in the pan like many other MVPs – ah, Ken Caminiti.

Perhaps the best part about Larry Walker is the fact he is a proud Canadian and should be a shoe-in for his second Canadian Male Athlete of the Year award. That is unless they wish to give the award again to Jaques Villneuve's car or to Elvis Stojko for making figure eights.

The stats and the accolades are on Walker's side. He is the best player in the league, bar none. He has the complete package and is the prototype every young player should aspire to. I can honestly say he is the best player I have ever seen play the game.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999