The 2010 Hall of Fame ballot holds the names of a couple of Reds favorites from the 80’s and 90’s with Barry Larkin appearing on the ballot for the first time, and Dave Parker returning for the 14th time.

In addition to the articles linked to above from Reds.com, Reds’ owner Bob Castellini sent a letter to voting members of the BBWAA. Included with the letter is a PDF file, which outlines all of Larkin’s awards, his statistics, how he matches up with other Hall of Fame shortstops, and how he performed relative to other shortstops from his era.

Also, the Reds have confirmed that Larkin is attending Redsfest Friday night at 6:30pm with the 1990 World Series team.

I think Barry Larkin deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He was certainly a Hall of Fame caliber player, but his chances will be hurt in the eyes of many voters because of the amount of time he missed to injuries. Larkin played just 2 calendar seasons fewer than Cal Ripken, but he played in 820 fewers games and made 3800 fewer plate appearances. That’s the equivalent of 5 full seasons. Is it fair to compare him to the guy who never missed a start?

34 Responses

  1. JasonL

    I don’t see the point of the Larkin-Ripken comparison you’re asking about. You could ask the same thing about many players in the hall. The question, I think, is this: When Larkin was on the field was he a hall of fame caliber player? Yes. Did he play enough to get in? I think so.

    It’s also interesting to note that Larkin finished with a higher OPS+ (116) than Ripken (112). I remember, especially toward the end of the streak, there were times when it would have been best for Ripken to take a seat as he was clearly hurting the team by playing injured or whatever. His last great season came when he was just 30, but he played for ten more years. Look at those last ten years and tell me if you think that player is a HOFer. There is something to be said for playing everyday, but there is also something to be said for knowing when you’re going to hurt the team more than help it by playing injured.

    • GregD

      JasonL: Did he play enough to get in? I think so.

      My point is exactly this question.

      Larkin’s rate stats are better, he was a great top-of-the-order contact hitter who got on-base and stole a lot of bases. He was better defensively.

      But there’s a counting stat element to the voters’ decision making process, too. How many votes does Larkin lose because of all the missed games?

  2. Dan

    I know this post is mostly about Barry Larkin, but your mention of Dave Parker reminded me…

    –MAN I was excited as a kid when the Reds signed Parker. December 7, 1983. I’d become a fan at about age 9, in 1980, and not much exciting had happened. The 1983 team had NO offense (HR leader – Redus (17), doubles leader – Householder (24), batting average leader – Driessen (.277), team batting average .239, team slugging .356). Then one night on the evening news… Dave Parker! It was very exciting to a 12 year old kid.

    –Parker really was good for his 4 years as a Red. In particular, he finished in the top 5 in the NL MVP race in 1985 and 1986. He led the league in total bases both years. He had over 30 HR and 110 RBI both years. In 1985 he batted .312/.365/.551. He was a STUD.

    –After a so-so 1987 season (.253/.311/.433, 26 HR, 97 RBI), the Reds GM (Murray Cook maybe?) executed a PERFECT sell-high trade: He traded Parker (age 36) to Oakland for 2 pitchers, Tim Birtsas (age 27) and Jose Rijo (age 22). Without Rijo, I don’t think we win the 1990 World Series. Between 1988-94 Rijo pitched 1315 IP for the Reds, went 87-53, and had a 2.63 ERA.

    All in all, though he is not a Hall of Famer, Parker was a KEY part of the history of the Reds from the mid-80’s through the mid-90’s.

    Hats off, Dave Parker!

  3. JasonL

    @GregD: Yeah, I know voters worry about counting stats, but I don’t know that they should place as much weight on them as they do. Larkin was elite through his age 36 season, much longer than Ripken, and, honestly, if you ask me who I’m taking when we’re picking teams, I’ll take Barry. He was a better player even if he wasn’t out there every day.

    • pinson343

      JasonL: @GregD: Yeah, I know voters worry about counting stats, but I don’t know that they should place as much weight on them as they do.

      They shouldn’t. And why does Larkin have to be compared to Ripken ? Ripken was easily over the bar. For that matter, Ozzie Smith was an easy first-ballot inductee, I’d like to see Barry compared with him. Phil Rizzuto and Pee Wee Reese are HOF shortstops. How does Barry compare with them ? (I know, different era, but there is supposed to be some consistency across eras.)

  4. jason1972

    Larkin’s career was bookened by larger than life baseball royalty. It will be a miracle if he ever gets in through the BBA.

  5. JasonL

    @pinson343: Honestly, I firmly believe Barry was better than Ozzie or Ripken. I don’t mind the comparison at all. Among retired players, he’s one of the three or four best ever.

    • pinson343

      JasonL: @pinson343: Honestly, I firmly believe Barry was better than Ozzie or Ripken. I don’t mind the comparison at all.

      Actually, I agree. But Ripken’s durability does cloud the issue. I just think Ripken’s durability is (or should be) irrelevant to Larkin’s HOF chances.

  6. Mr. Redlegs

    Barry Larkin averaged 114 games a season for 19 years. In his last eight years, he played to that average of games just three times. So if you want to make an argument about Ripken’s production his final 10 years, at least he was on the field, contributing.

    If you don’t play, you don’t go to Cooperstown. It’s pretty simple. Any speculative comparisons are irrelevant. Ifs, Ands and Buts don’t count.

    One played, one didn’t. One has over 3,184 hits, 431 homers and 1,695 RBI. The other isn’t even close. So whatever bias in players you were watching, you are wrong. One’s a rightful first-balloter, the other maybe gets 50 percent vote on first ballot.

  7. JustTheFacts

    I moved the Cincinnati in 1996, so I missed most of his career. All I can say is that when I went to my first Reds game that year, his name was the only one I was familiar with. That means he had name recognition outside the area. I didn’t follow baseball before moving to Cincinnati, so his name must have been big enough around the country for me to know who he was. Sean Casey didn’t have that name recognition and he’s a first ballot. The fact that he’s on the MLB Network will help. His stats are good enough. He’s gone a World Series win, MVP, and a whole host of other awards. I think he and Edgar will go.

  8. Dan

    How do Alomar and Larkin compare? My gut says that Alomar gets in before Barry.

    Edgar is an interesting case — fantastic hitter, but mostly a DH. What will come of him?

  9. JasonL

    @Dan: Alomar and Larkin were really similar players. Alomar got about 2 season worth of at bats more than Larkin, but didn’t hold his peak quite as long. Both were excellent fielding middle infielders who could run and had a little pop. I’m actually kind of startled at how similar their offensive numbers are Alomar was better than I remember. I’d given Larkin some extra credit for being a SS (harder than 2B) and maybe a little to Alomar for the extra ABs. They’re probably about even, really. Though the consensus does seem to be that Alomar gets in before Barry. Not sure why that is.

  10. WORLD

    Don’t think Larkin will make it. I would be very surprised.

    He was very, very good but he’s just a wee bit short of being a Hall of Famer.

  11. Matt WI

    @WORLD: Do you mean short of a first ballot hall of famer or short of the Hall entirely?

  12. brublejr

    Regardless if he was durable or not, he is at very worst one of the top 10 SS of all-time, and merits getting in at some point. Considering players in their primes I would no doubt take Barry over Ripken or Ozzie. He was a complete player in every single aspect outside of playing every game. I think playing in Cincy will hurt him because he only played on a few good teams. Had he been a lifetime Yankee the conversation would be Larkin and who else get in this year…

  13. Mr. Redlegs

    Guys, you keep comparing Larkin to the wrong people. Ripken and Ozzie are already first-balloters whose contributions are not only historical but changed the way the position was defined. Larkin, while a very good player, simply wasn’t on the field enough to be on the same measuring stick of those guys.

    Look at Alan Trammell. There’s your comp. And the argument will be that if Larkin gets in, Trammell sure as hell should get in.

    • BoSox

      Have you ever actually watched a baseball game? That’s an astoundingly bad observation.

      Mr. Redlegs: Guys, you keep comparing Larkin to the wrong people. Ripken and Ozzie are already first-balloters whose contributions are not only historical but changed the way the position was defined. Larkin, while a very good player, simply wasn’t on the field enough to be on the same measuring stick of those guys.Look at Alan Trammell. There’s your comp. And the argument will be that if Larkin gets in, Trammell sure as hell should get in.

  14. Mr. Redlegs

    Playing for the Yankees likely would have hurt Larkin’s HOF chances more than helped because the New York media would have fried his his okra for missing so much time on a perennial playoff team. Those BBWAA writers in New York have long, harsh memories.

    The interesting thing is in 1992, when Larkin was in his prime, Jim Bowden defied every odd imaginable—and the vehement wishes of his scouting department—by drafting OF Chad Mottola instead of . . . Derek Jeter. Fancy for a moment what could have transpired if the Reds had drafted Jeter.

    He likely would have been shifted to second base when he came up in 1995, Larkin’s MVP season, and moved to shortstop to fill the gap of Larkin missing so much time in 1997 and 2000. Both players were free agents after the 2000 season. If Jeter didn’t leave (which would have been likely), Larkin probably isn’t signed for the destructive $27 million contract that handicapped the team for three years.

    Conceivably, Jeter would still be the Reds’ shortstop today.

  15. JasonL

    @Mr. Redlegs: I know we aren’t supposed to respond to the crotchety old man, but this is a fail Mr. Redlegs. Go look at the career and single season numbers. Larkin is totally comparable and quite possible better than Ripken and Ozzie. What hurts him in the voters’ eyes, I would guess, is being really good at everything. Instead of great at one or two things. Also, Ozzie didn’t change how the position was played. He was just the epitome of how it was, at the time, supposed to be played. All field, almost no hit. Ozzie was great, I’m not arguing that, I’m just taking issue with your word choice.

    Also, I do tend to think that Trammell, while not quite as good as Larkin, should be in the hall. It’s a shamed that he is so overlooked.

  16. brublejr

    @Mr. Redlegs: Larkin is much better than Trammel, yet I think it is a shame that he is not in either because he was a great SS as well.

    • jason1972

      They actually have pretty similar careers numbers-wise and as far as awards go. But in areas that are hard to count like clutch hits, great defensive range, and value to the team I think Larkin pulls ahead.

      brublejr: @Mr. Redlegs: Larkin is much better than Trammel, yet I think it is a shame that he is not in either because he was a great SS as well.

  17. shane

    They won’t vote him in because they don’t want to have to sit through his acceptance speech.

  18. GregD

    The difference between Larkin and Ozzie offensively is greater than the difference between the two defensively.

  19. GregD

    OPS+ for each player
    Larkin 116
    Ripken 112
    Trammell 110

    OPS+ is OPS relative to the player’s league, adjusted for ballpark. An OPS+ of 100 represents league average.

    Larkin had an OPS+ in excess of 100 in 13 consecutive seasons from age 24 to age 36. He put up an OPS+ over 100 a 14th time in his final season at age 40.

    Ripken did it 10 consecutive times from age 21-30, plus 3 additional times in the 2nd half of his career.

    Trammell had an OPS+ in excess of 100 9 times, but only strung together three consecutive seasons above average from age 28-30.

  20. GRF

    I think there are valid arguments for both Larkin and Trammel, but as Jason and Greg point out, the case for Larkin is slightly better.

  21. Dan

    Just looking at the numbers, I’d put Larkin pretty safely ahead of Trammell.

    But I’d also put Alomar ahead of Larkin.

    Pretty interesting to see how this all plays out… I think we may all have on some rose-colored glasses as Cincinnati fans. I think Barry may turn out to be a very tough call. (I am fairly certain he will not get in on the 1st ballot. I think it could get close and interesting several years down the road.)

  22. JasonL

    @Dan: Hey Dan, why would you put Alomar ahead of Larkin? (I’m curious, not trying to snipe.) I have a really hard time picking one over the other. Alomar played a bit longer, but Larkin was a shortstop and their numbers are REALLY similar.

  23. Dan

    Alomar – 2724 hits
    Larkin – 2340 hits

    Alomar – 10 Gold Gloves
    Larkin – 3 Gold Gloves

    Alomar – 5 MVP top 10’s
    Larkin – 2 MVP top 10’s

    Alomar – 1508 runs
    Larkin – 1329 runs

    Alomar – 1134 RBI
    Larkin – 960 RBI

    Alomar – 504 doubles
    Larkin – 441 doubles

    Alomar – 210 HR
    Larkin – 198 HR

    Alomar – 474 SB
    Larkin – 379 SB

    Alomar – 1032 BB
    Larkin – 939 BB

    As I said, this is coldly by the numbers… and I don’t think the Gold Glove voting (in particular) is very meaningful… but you put it all together and it does mean something, I think.

    There’s even the annoying little fact that shouldn’t mean much but it probably does… that Alomar batted .300 for his career, and Larkin batted .295.

    It’s all very close, but it seems like Alomar is coming out ahead every time.

  24. brublejr

    Alomar gets more credit for his defense than Barry, because Barry is compared with Ozzie. Both are very worthy and both should get in at some point. The biggest negative against Alomar (which is why I don’t think he will get in 1st ballot) is the spitting incident. He will never live that down, even with the Ump saying he doesn’t hold it against him.

  25. Mr. Redlegs

    Alomar and Larkin are not in the same discussion unless you’re futzing over first ballot.

    First, there’s Dan’s not-very-close stats comparison. Then, there’s a camp that believes Alomar was the best all-around second baseman in history and, uh, no, Alomar doesn’t get a nudge defensively because of any comparison between Ozzie and Larkin. Alomar was sensational and he played very significant role at the top of the order on two World Series champions and five other playoff teams.

    The spiting incident will probably cost him votes by newer voters who weren’t around to know Hirschbeck called Robbie a sexual slur to instigate the whole thing. But there’s a very, very strong argument for him as a first-balloter, even though middle infielders traditionally have a very difficult time getting the votes first time through.

  26. pinson343

    @Dan:

    This is the durability argument again. (Not that it isn’t relevant, it’s highly relevant.) The career OPS+ of both Alomar and Larkin is 116.

  27. JasonL

    @pinson343: I agree, durability is important, but I would add to your response to Dan that (and I’ve said this several times) Larkin played short. Short is a much harder position than second and Larkin played it brilliantly. I think most people know that Gold Gloves are a joke, but even so, Larkin would have won more than three if Ozzie hadn’t been given several late career awards based on reputation more than performance. He also would have won more if he had played in the other league. Larkin was the second best fielder in the Majors for many years. I have to think it is important that the person he trailed was, quite possibly, the greatest fielder in the history of baseball. So, anyway, that’s why I pull Larkin even with Alomar. Alomar has the counting stats, but Larkin played a hard position and he played it brilliantly. I think that makes them a wash.

  28. pinson343

    @JasonL:

    Bottom line, well said and I agree. But I’m still worried about the voters’ emphasis on “counting stats” and the “new bar” for shortstops.