In my (admittedly biased) opinion, it is a crime that Barry Larkin was not elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame last year, in his first year on the ballot. His second go-round is at hand, as the 2011 ballot was released to members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Monday.

Mark Sheldon has this piece on Larkin’s prospects:

Since the results from his first time on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot were encouraging, it will be interesting to see if Reds shortstop great Barry Larkin keeps moving in the right direction toward Cooperstown.

In January, when the Hall of Fame election results were revealed, Larkin was named on 278 of the 539 ballots for a respectable 51.6 percent of the vote.

Players need to be on 75 percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America ballots to gain election, but considering that Larkin received more votes than many first-timers, it’s an indication he won’t have as steep a hill to climb as others to be inducted. …

A native of Cincinnati and a graduate of Moeller High School, Larkin was a 1985 first-round Draft pick of his hometown Reds and would spend his entire career with one team. From 1986-2004, he had a lifetime average of .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits, a .371 on-base percentage and 379 stolen bases. He was a 12-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a member of the 1990 World Series championship team and the 1995 National League Most Valuable Player.

There is no question that Larkin is one of the best shortstops of all time. My fingers are crossed that he will get in this year. If he does, I’ll have to make a trip to Cooperstown for the induction ceremony, I’d expect.

There is also no question that the Reds need to bring Barry Larkin back into the organization in some capacity. He did some work with the youngsters in spring training last year, but I’d love to see him back with the Reds in a more permanent role.

Back to the Hall of Fame, I expect Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar will be elected this year; both should have made it last year, as well. Blyleven and Alomar are both much more qualified than Andre Dawson, who was the only inductee in 2010. We’ll find out the results on January 5.

If I were casting a ballot, in addition to Larkin, Blyleven, and Alomar, I’d cast a vote for Tim Raines, Alan Trammell, and Edgar Martinez; I’d also probably vote for first-timers Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro, too. (Other first-timers — though I wouldn’t vote for them — include Larry Walker, Juan Gonzalez, Tino Martinez, Kevin Brown, John Olerud, and former Red Benito Santiago*.) Yes, I’d vote for a lot of people, but they’re all qualified as far as I’m concerned (and, again, all are more qualified than Dawson).

Sentimentally, I might cast a ballot for former Reds Dave Parker and John Franco, too, although neither are really qualified. The Cobra will appear on the ballot for the final time this year; Parker was so much fun to watch as a Red in the late eighties. I also have a soft spot for Franco. He was good on those same Reds teams, and neither got to be a part of the 1990 championship team (though Parker brought us Jose Rijo — and Tim Birtsas! — in a trade, so he contributed to the formation of that team).

You can probably tell that I love Hall of Fame chatter. It’s a fascinating subject.

*Everytime I see Santiago’s name, I remember how one of my younger brothers, when he was about nine years old, always called him “Ben-toe Son-teego.” That still cracks me up.

16 Responses

  1. Bill Lack

    It’s a personal prejudice…but I’d never vote for a career DH for the HOF.

  2. Steve Price

    I understand what Bill’s saying. I do kind of wonder if a DH is to a position player would be a comparable to what a reliever is to a pitcher?

    If Martinez is selected, I would think Hal McRae should get in as a DH pioneer.

  3. Sultan of Swaff

    I suspect if Blyleven and Alomar will get in this year, Larkin would move to the front of the line. Given the number of players who’ll never see the inside of the HOF because of steroids, voters will almost be forced to vote for Barry just so someone, anyone, can keep the HOF weekend alive.

  4. lookatthathat

    I don’t see Larkin going in this year, which is unfortunate. He is my all-time favorite player, and an all-time great, but I think the DL will go against him again this year. Next year he will get in.

  5. Python Curtus

    You realize with the Veteren’s committee vote, there is the possibility the next HOF class could be dominated with nearly 40 years worth of Reds shortstops? (Actually about 35 years)

    Palmeiro may not have been as flashy or headline grabbing, but he was just as repugnant a steroid user as McGwire. He was actually quite arrogant about it, too. Not just his cheap ass way of throwing Tejada under the bus when he got snagged with a positive test. His commercials for viagra took on irony when it was revealed that viagra could be used to replace hormones at the end of a steroid cycle.
    In short, he won’t be getting in.

    John Olerud was a fantastic hitter. He was not flashy on the field, but he was a total bad ass. I think he deserves more consideration than he’s getting.

    I also disagree with the idea of John Franco not deserving to get in. For one thing, he pitched a very long time and he was very consistent. People talk about dominance setting Hall of Famers apart, but really, what does that mean? You can do the same thing at the same level for 20 years and while you may not out perform some others, you might outlast them. I think Franco’s numbers stand up much better than Bruce Sutter or Rich Gossage.
    That being said, I still believe Lee Smith deserves to be voted in. I can’t understand why he hasn’t gotten the same recognition as Sutter, Gossage or Fingers. Those three could be considered trailblazers in the concept of the closer. So why shouldn’t Smith and Franco get the same consideration for their service in a time when the closer is considered just as important as a starter?

    On the other hand, I am opposed to giving the DH any recognition. But it is hard to deny, Edgar Martinez was great. At least he spent 6 years playing 3B. That counts, doesn’t it?

  6. Jason1972

    I’ve always felt like Ozzie Smith was the biggest obstacle to both Concepcion and Larkin getting into the HoF. His flashy defense dominated the media to the point that Concepion was completely overshadowed. He also robbed Larkin of a couple of GGs early in his career right before the era of the power hitting SS arrived. But both really defined their position during their primes.

    • pinson343

      I’ve always felt like Ozzie Smith was the biggest obstacle to both Concepcion and Larkin getting into the HoF.His flashy defense dominated the media to the point that Concepion was completely overshadowed.He also robbed Larkin of a couple of GGs early in his career right before the era of the power hitting SS arrived.But both really defined their position during their primes.

      Jason1972: Absolutely right on. Larkin should have won 5 GGs, and it doesn’t often get mentioned that he won 9 Silver Slugger Awards. (Sheldon doesn’t mention it above.)
      That’s a long period of domination at his position.

      I’ve been listening to the mlb network radio talk re the HOF. One guy doesn’t like Larkin because his career numbers (quantitative, like hits, HRs, RBIs) aren’t that impressive.
      That’s where the time on the DL hurts him. And RBIs should not carry weight in his case – he often was batting first or second.

      Jim Bowden, to his credit, said Larkin should be in the Hall, but added that he was the 2nd best SS of his time, behind Ozzie Smith. This was just taken as a no brainer. I don’t get it. Larkin was vastly superior to Smith as an offensive player. I cannot believe his defense was inferior to Smith’s by an equal degree, his defense was just too good for that.

      If Barry were named Ozzie (so people could call him the Wiz) and did backflips, and Ozzie were named Barry and didn’t, then Smith would still be left out and Larkin would have been a first ballot HOFer last year. My point here is the media hype.

      And I don’t need to hear that Ozzie Smith was the greatest defensive SS ever, I know that.

  7. Sultan of Swaff

    It can’t hurt Larkin’s case that that all but one of the premier shortstops of the 90’s have been discredited (Tejada, ARod, Garciaparra). Jeter hasn’t, and the similarities in style and play reflects well on Barry. You can’t vote in one but not the other.
    Off topic but worth mentioning—almost all the decent starting pitching has already signed, yet the demand is still there. This would seem to strengthen the Red’s hand if they choose to make Arroyo a trade chip. Should they? Heck, throw in Maloney and Cozart and I’d swap him for Jose Reyes–another guy who’s on the last year of a deal worth $11mil.

  8. Travis G.

    If I had a vote, I’d weigh the stats of players from the steroid era against their contemporaries, not history. But I probably wouldn’t vote in anyone I suspected of PEDs (i.e., everyone from that era save Junior and Frank Thomas) on the first ballot.

    So my votes would go to Larkin, Blyleven, Murphy, Raines and McGwire. Next year, I would vote for Palmeiro and Bagwell.

  9. Greg Dafler

    The DL issue with Larkin is just a strawman argument. It’s not like he was hurt so much that he doesn’t have enough playing time to “qualify for” the HOF. As I posted last year, Larkin would right in the middle of HOF SS in # of total games played. And for Larkin that was almost all at SS, while a lot of the other players had moved to other positions.

  10. lookatthathat

    @Greg Dafler: I agree that it’s a stupid argument. But the HOF voters will take him to the third year before he gets in.

  11. Sultan of Swaff

    @lookatthathat: To me, Nomar falls in the Sammy Sosa group—no proof, but the physical appearance and the drastic dropoff in performance when the testing protocols went into effect created more than enough suspicion. Understandably, suspicion is more than enough for most writers.

  12. pinson343

    No way that Palmeiro gets many votes at all. He not only tested positive for steroids, he disgraced himself in many ways.
    The first known steroid user to get in will be a big name like Bonds or ARod.

  13. Doug Dennis

    Agree with your choices. Blyleven is #1 on the list for me. Raines is #2. Larkin #3. Bagwell #4. Alomar #5. Those are all very very easy ones, in my mind. Trammell #6 is where it starts to get less easy, but I’d take him. I always wondered if being a Cal Ripken contemporary would hurt him. Palmeiro #7, although it shows that I care far too little about the steroid piece, I suppose. Edgar Martinez was a great, great hitter–if ever there were a DH to go in (besides Paul Molitor who got most of his milestones as a DH) it would be Edgar Martinez, so yeah, I’m even with you on him as #8. 8 is a heck of a lot of votes for one year.

    I don’t get the arguments about Ozzie Smith this or that. Ozzie Smith was unique and incredible and to my mind is a no-brainer–I really don’t understand arguments against him at all. The only SS I ever saw who was even close to Ozzie on D is Omar Vizquel. (Thought I was going to say Davey, didn’t you?)

  14. Jason1972

    Larkin was such a complete player. I would take him over Ozzie Smith at any time in their careers to build my franchise around.