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.