12/30/2010

On Barry Larkin

Today, Joe Posnanski has published his “eight definites” for the Hall of Fame: the “eight players on this year’s ballot who are clearly above my Hall of Fame standard.” I agree with every single one of them, and I especially concur that anyone voting for Jack Morris and not voting for Bert Blyleven is a moron and should have his HOF vote revoked.

Anyway, the piece is absolutely a must-read. Here’s the portion about Nation favorite Barry Larkin:

Bill James and I have each done a list of our 32 Best All-Around Players in baseball history. Well, I don’t think Bill’s list is quite 32, and I’m not entirely sure we had the same thing in mind when thinking what “best all-around players” even means. We’ll run that thing out there sometime in January to keep the hot stove talk burning.

But I can tell you now that Barry Larkin is on both of our lists. He did everything. He hit. He hit with power. He ran. He defended. He threw. He walked. He played the game with a high level of intelligence and verve. I think he was a deserving winner of the MVP in 1995 (assuming you weren’t going to give it to Bonds every year), and he was probably even better in 1996.

The knock on Larkin is simply his durability — he only played 150 games in a season three times. But he was a fabulous player from 1991-98. That’s eight seasons when he posted a 134 OPS+ (Take Cal Ripken’s eight best seasons — not even in a row — and you get a 132 OPS+), he stole 206 out of 240 bases, he won two Gold Gloves, he slugged .487. There are not many shortstops in baseball history that can give you eight seasons like that. And he offered value in other years too. I think he’s a clear cut Hall of Famer.

This just in: Larkin was a great, great player.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 19 Comments

  1. Larkin was indeed a great, great player. It will be more difficult than it should be for a number of reasons: his injury history, which hurts his cumulative career stats; playing for mostly losing and unnoticed Reds teams; a shortage of media attention, compared to for example Ozzie Smith; underrated defense, due to Ozzie Smith; underrated offense, due to slugging SSs like Tejada and ARod.

    Despite all that, I think he’ll get in, but probably not this year, with Alomar and Blyleven getting so much attention.

    I just read The Eight Definites. Great stuff. I didn’t mind that the writeup of Barry was short, that’s telling in itself. There were a couple of minor nits in the Larkin writeup (150+ games 4 times not 3, and 3 GGs (not two). Those have been pointed out in the comments, one by me (Mike, not Vada).

  2. So, if you had to choose, whose Reds career would you rather have—Barry Larkin or Joe Morgan?

  3. I couldn’t agree more. If you’re voting for Morris and not voting for Blyleven you’re not qualified to be a HOF voter. I personally think they are both HOF worthy.

  4. I don’t think I appreciated just how good Jeff Bagwell was. Wow.

  5. @Sultan of Swaff: What a trap. Whichever one you pick, you’ll get nailed by people for not picking the other.

    You specificaly say “Reds career” so I’ll punt and say it’s a peak vs. whole career thing. Morgan had 6 (consecutive) great seasons with the Reds. For that peak period, you have to go all the way back to Rogers Hornsby to find a 2nd baseman who was arguably as good.

    Larkin was with the Reds for 19 seasons, and as Joe P., points out, had a great stretch over 8 consecutive seasons. But at his peak, he was not as great as Morgan at his peak. On the other hand, he had a lot more outstanding seasons with the Reds than Morgan did.

    So pick ’em.

    In any case, Barry does not have to be rated over Joe to deserve the Hall.

  6. This issue really pisses me off. It is disgusting that Larkin is not already in the HOF; to me he should have gone in on the first ballot, and he might not make it this year either. It’s ridiculous, just a farce.

  7. Dave, if Larkin would have played in NY or LA you better believe he would have been in on the first ballot. Guys who play their careers in flyover country have to wait.

  8. Your comments on Blylevin are correct in connection with Morris however if Jim Kaat wasn’t elected them neither Morrris or Blylevin deserve it.

  9. @Mark in cc.: Wrong. Blyleven is a million times better candidate than either of those two.

  10. Chad, I wanted to thank you for the links to Joe Posnanski. I even follow the guy on twitter now. Love the article and the passion and commitment he demonstrates in Hall of Fame voting. Barry Larkin was a first ballot hall of famer in my opinion. Yes, he had durability issues, but he still played 19 seasons, most at an above average to great level. I still don’t understand how one can make the argument that Ozzie Smith was so much better than Larkin. Yes, Ozzie was the better defender and perhaps the best defensive SS in history but in my opinion Larkin was never that far behind him defensively. Offensively it wasn’t even close with Ozzie’s career OPS+ of 87 and a career high of 112. Compare that to Barry’s career OPS+ of 116 and career high of 154. Ozzie gets in on the first ballot at 91% and Barry is still considered an outsider on the second ballot, something doesn’t seem right there. Maybe I’m wrong with how good of a defender Larkin was but I remember him as one of the best of his generation. Here’s hoping that the BBWAA get him in the second go around.

    Already commented by I just wanted to add, I had no idea how dominant Bagwell was. Looking at the numbers he was truly an absolutely terrifying hitter. It is just so easy to forget how good he was when the numbers were so bloated during that era. And this last part goes to anyone who thinks Morris should be in but Blyleven shouldn’t be. Seriously want are you on but you might want to lower the dosage.

    Happy Holidays to all!!

  11. Ok screwed that last sentence up, maybe I should lower the dosage. 🙂

  12. Ok, I’m a little bored this morning and was looking through Baseball-Reference. Two things I didn’t know. The highest % total in history is a tie between Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver at 98.8%. I want to know who the five guys were who didn’t vote for Seaver and who the six guys were who didn’t vote for Ryan. The other thing that amazed me was Cy Young was not a first ballot hall of famer and squeaked in the second year with 76.1%. 511 wins doesn’t guarantee you first ballot election? I guess the standards have always been pretty high for admission.

  13. @The Mad Hatter:

    that’s voting is a “novelty” of the baseball HOF. nobody has ever been unanimous and recieved every vote. I recall reading Baseball Digest article some years back that stated/implied some of the voters did not want to have any 100% ballot and thus have that player be able to claim greatest player or some such nonsense. so somebody(s) always leaves off the ballot the obvious HOF, knowing they will get in 1st ballot.

    Here is to ringing in 2011 with Larkin in the HOF. Well deserved honor for him.

  14. The article further demonstrates that Joe Pos is one of the best baseball writers of our time.

    I disagree with his choice of Mark McGwire for the HOF. Too many of his great accomplishments occurred after his involvement with PED’s to be able to exclude this factor from his performance. OPS from 1987 – 1991 (5 years, excluding his 18 games in 1986) is .839. From 1992 on, his OPS is 1.074. He admits to beginning taking PED’s after the 1991 season. See any link there?

  15. @The Mad Hatter: Ozzie Smith is an example of the media shaping perceptions. He was a media phenomenon. Those backflips, the smile. Never mind that when it was time for him to step down, he was hostile toward the Cardinals and his young replacement, Royce Clayton.

    Larkin, on the other hand, in his final years did everything he could to teach Felipe Lopez and the other candidates for his replacement how to play SS. That didn’t work out so well, but not thru lack of effort by Barry.

  16. Once Bonds gets in, so will McGwire and others. Eventually even Palmiero.

    It’s just too tricky to let in Bonds, Clemens, ARod, and Manny and not let in the other cheaters.

  17. @Dave Lowenthal: Agree 100%! @pinson343: Agree 100%

    Barry was a better player than Smith, he just didn’t have the barehanded stops/backflips/etc…

  18. One day left to vote and Larkin needs something like 30 ballots in a row with his name clicked on them to hit 75% on Posnanski’s HOF poll with the articles. Let your neighbor vote with your computer by opening another browser!

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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1990 Reds, Barry Larkin: Hall of Famer, Bring Barry Back!

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