Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Barry Larkin Elected to Hall

The third time was a charm for former lifelong Cincinnati Red Barry Larkin, who skated into Cooperstown with over 86 percent of voters giving him the nod.  Larkin never led the league in any major offensive statistic and fell short of a few milestones--he just missed finishing his 19 year career with 200 home runs, 1,000 RBI and a .300 batting average--which explains why he wasn't a first ballot Hall of Famer.  His individual numbers don't jump off the page, but collectively they form the basis of an excellent all-around player who could do everything well. The versatile shortstop's impressive resume includes...

-12 All-Star selections (in three different decades)
-9 Silver Sluggers (five consecutive from 1988 to '92)
-9 seasons with a .300 batting average
-3 straight Gold Gloves from 1994 to '96
-1995 NL MVP award
-A World Series ring from his 1990 championship squad
-1993 Roberto Clemente Award
-1994 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
-A .338/.397/.465 postseason line
-68.9 bWAR, which ranks him 61st all time among position players
-More walks (939) than strikeouts (817)
-379 stolen bases against only 77 caught stealings for a phenomenal 83 percent success rate

Congratulations to a great player and tremendous human being.

Other notes from this year's voting:

-Bernie Williams (9.6 percent) was the only member of the this year's weak class to earn more than one percent of the votes.  I expected him to get more support than this (in the 15-20 percent range), and I wouldn't be surprised if he falls off the ballot next year with such a strong class coming up for election that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazzaand Craig Biggio.  People are simply going to forget about him and I don't think he has any chance of getting voted in, but it's certainly possible a veteran's committee might open the doors to him a few decades from now.

-Everyone already on the ballot received more votes than last year except for, you guessed it, Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez.  Big Mac and his 583 career big flies continue to lose support, while Juan Gone, who barely stayed above the five percent threshold last time around, dipped to four percent and fell off the ballot.

-This ballot didn't have anyone in their fifteenth year, so everyone who got five percent will be back next year

-Unfortunately for Vinny Castilla, Tim Salmon, Bill Mueller, and Brad Radke, they will not be on the ballot in 2013.  Castilla's whacked 320 home runs and topped 40 three times, but his numbers were enhanced by Coors Field and his .321 OBP and 95 OPS+ indicate that he was a pedestrian hitter.  Salmon was the 1993 AL Rookie of the Year and finished with an .884 OPS, but was never an elite player at his peak and didn't make up for it with a long, distinguished career.  Billy Mueller beat out Manny Ramirez for the 2003 AL batting title and keyed Boston's 2004 ALCS comeback with a clutch game-tying single off Mariano Rivera in Game 4, but he just couldn't stay healthy.  Radke finished third in the 1997 Cy Young race behind Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson after winning 20 games, and he almost never walked anybody.  Even though his career ERA looks mediocre at 4.22, Minnesota's workhorse pitched during the heart of the steroid era so his ERA+ is actually above average at 113.

-One and done-Javy Lopez and Eric Young both received one vote apiece.  Lopez was one of the better hitting backstops in baseball for a decade; from 1995 through 2004 he hit .293/.344/.506, and the three time All-Star enjoyed one of the best offensive seasons ever for a catcher when he smacked 43 home runs, knocked in 109 runs and batted .328/.378/.687 with a 1.065 OPS for the Atlanta Braves in 2003.  Young finished his fifteen year career with 465 stolen bases.  In 1996 he received a Silver Slugger, made the All-Star team and led the NL with 53 thefts, one of the three times he eclipsed 50 steals in a season.

-Shut out-No one voted for Ruben Sierra (a four time All-Star with over 2,000 hits and 300 homers), Jeromy Burnitz (315 career blasts and six seasons with at least 30), Tony Womack (NL stolen base leader three straight seasons from 1997 to 1999), Phil Nevin (.814 OPS despite spending his prime years in San Diego), Brian Jordan (a homeless man's Andruw Jones) and Terry Mulholland (l992 National League leader in complete games, 1993 NL All-Star)


  1. I agree about Bernie Williams! His role is so underappreciated in the Yankees resurgence to dominance in the late 90's when they became arguably the baseball team of the decade when they won 4 out of 5 world series titles spanning from 1996 to the year 2000. His numbers do not leap off the page at you like they do a Rafael Palmerio or a Barry Bonds but unlike these two great players he was the consumate team players and as a person who rooted against the Yankees I have deep respect for him. He will most certaintly be forgotten about because of next year's class and not only next year's class but by stronger competition in the years to come!

  2. Williams was a very good player, and over his eight year peak from 1995-2002 he averaged .321/.406/.531 with 24 home runs and more than 100 RBI/runs scored a year. Unfortunately, those numbers didn't stand out during the steroid era, and he probably needed another three or four years like those to have a strong case because he just didn't play long enough to hit the major milestones. I think Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon are great comps for him, but both have a little bit more longevity which should help their cases, especially if Damon can hang on and get 3,000 hits.