Let me get this out first. Of the many nominees, Barry Larkin was the only player to eclipse the necessary 75 percent (with a total of 86.4 percent) vote to enter the Hall. The player with the second most votes was Jack Morris, who garnered two-thirds of the vote. Congratulations to Barry, but in my opinion, he didn't deserve it.
He averaged 114.7 games per season, which to me, just doesn't cut it. OK, he played only 41 games in 1986 because he was a rookie. Take that out, as he played a full season the next year and entrenched himself as a starter for years to come, but from the time he became a full-time starter, he still only averaged 118.8 games per season, which means he was oft-injured and didn't garner necessary playing time. Only eclipsing the 150-game mark thrice and only playing in at least 130 games seven times in his career, I don't think he makes the cut.
Granted, he played exceptionally well in his playing time, he was a perennial All Star, but not a Hall of Famer. The player I do believe deserved the call and may get it next year was Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell stood out even in a steroid-infested era, and the four-time All Star was never once tied to Performance-Enhancing Drugs. He reached 30 home runs eight times in his career, batted .297, and even stole 202 bases. His signature stance was a symbol of the Astros in the '90s and early 2000s, and I hope Bagwell is given the necessary bump in 2013 after receiving 56 percent of the vote in 2012.
Barry Larkin (Praise. I'm done whining).
Barry Larkin showed up at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati in 1986 as a skinny, homegrown 22-year-old kid playing in his hometown, ready to make an impact. After batting .283 in a brief 41-game stint that year, the Reds gave Larkin the full-time job in 1987, where he hit 12 home runs and stole 21 bases. Despite the low .244 average, they saw him as a key player in their future, in a situation similar to what Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond is now.
One thing that sets him apart from Desmond is he was replacing the great Dave Concepcion, who would retire in 1988. The Reds were not punished for believing in Larkin as a replacement in that '88 season; he again hit 12 home runs, but batted .296 and stole 40 bases, good for ninth in the National League. The Cincinnati native also won his first of nine NL Silver Sluggers for shortstop and was voted onto the first of twelve All Star teams.
Looking to repeat his success in 1989, Larkin was off to a fast start, hitting four home runs and batting .333 with 10 stolen bases in the season's first three-and-a-half months, encompassing 94 games. He returned for 10 at-bats in September, finished with a .342 average on the season.
Though he did not play a full season, he showed everyone he wasn't going to settle for just being "good." He played in 158 games in 1990, and though he hit just seven home runs, he batted .301 with 30 stolen bases to help Cincinnati to the World Series Championship.
In 123 games in 1991, Larkin posted his best season yet, hitting 20 home runs and batting .302 with 20 stolen bases. Larkin's 12-homer, .304-average, 15-stolen base 1992 wasn't as flashy as his 1991, and he began to look like he was declining at ages 28 to 30 over the next few years. He hit just eight home runs in 1993 while batting .315 with 14 stolen bases, then dropped again in 1994. In the strike-shortened season, he hit nine home runs and batted just .279, his lowest mark since 1987, and stole 26 bases in 110 games. He also won his first of three straight Gold Gloves.
In 131 games in 1995, he bounced back strongly, hitting 15 home runs and swatting .319 with 51 stolen bases. The 51 stolen bases placed him second in the National League behind Marlins rookie Quilvio Veras. The outstanding season netted him the NL MVP. That set up arguably the best season of his career.
In 152 games in 1996, Larkin hit 33 home runs, knocked in 89 runs (both remaining as career highs), and batted .298 with 36 stolen bases. 1997 brought injury issues, as he hit only four home runs despite a .317 average and 14 stolen bases in 73 games. He again bounced back in 1998, hitting 17 home runs and batting .309 with 26 stolen bases. He won his final Silver Slugger in 1999, when he hit 12 home runs and batted .293 with 30 stolen bases. He would actually have a better year in 2000, but Edgar Renteria would beat him out for the award in the Year of the Hitter. That year, Larkin hit 11 home runs and batted .313 with 14 stolen bases in 102 games. Then 36, it would be the final solid season for the aging shortstop.
His production decreased dramatically in 2001, where he hit just two home runs and batted .256 in 45 games for Cincinnati. He played a full season in 2002, but his production didn't match up as he hit seven home runs and batted .245 with 13 stolen bases in 145 games. Again missing time to injury in 2003, his home run total dropped back down to two despite a climb in his average up to .282. He played in 111 games in 2004 and actually had a very good season where he hit eight home runs and batted .289.
Despite the comeback, the 40-year-old decided to retire. Over his 19-year career, the lifetime Cincinnati man hit 198 home runs (303rd all time), knocked in 960 runs (309th all time), and batted .295 (287th all time) with 379 stolen bases (87th all time) in 2,180 games (139th all time). His 1,329 runs scored ranks 108th all time and his 2,340 hits rank him at number 131. He also ranks high on numerous Reds lists; ninth in home runs, sixth in RBI, 24th in average, third in stolen bases, and third in runs. He also ranks second only to Pete Rose in doubles (441) and hits. In longevity based stats, he is fourth in at bats and third in games.
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. BAA: batting average against. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage