Trueblood: Larry Walker’s unfortunate timing

From Matthew Trueblood at Baseball Prospectus on November 26, 2019:

Larry Walker had terrible timing. In 1994, he was on the very precipice of national hero status. Despite playing nearly every day with a torn rotator cuff that had forced him to move from right field to first base in late June, he was batting .322/.394/.587 in mid-August, for an Expos team in first place and with its eye fixed firmly on the World Series. Walker is the greatest Canadian baseball player ever, and that was already evident by that season, his fifth full one in the majors. He had a real chance to become the NL MVP, playing for Canada’s senior-circuit team, and to try to lead that team to the Fall Classic for the first time. Along with Chuck Knoblauch and Craig Biggio, he was on pace to challenge the single-season record for doubles, but whereas Knoblauch and Biggio had 11 home runs between them, Walker had 19.

Then, the hammer fell. The remainder of the Expos’ magical season was canceled, along with the rest of MLB’s campaign. Walker hit free agency at the end of the strike, and the Expos (on strict orders to slash payroll) didn’t even leave the door open a crack for him to return by offering him arbitration. He was pushed out into the open and treacherous waters of free agency, no longer the iconic quasi-local boy (not that Maple Ridge, BC and Montreal are anywhere near each other, geographically).

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Originally published: November 26, 2019. Last Updated: November 26, 2019.