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.