I’m going to be honest. There is no possible way I can be biased on this one. I grew up a Reds fan. I was a little kid whose hair was red. I grew up loving the Reds. Eric Davis was my favorite player, my idol, my hero. I had a poster of Pete Rose on my front door. I used to read stories about the Big Red Machine of old. I still think the ’75 Reds was the greatest team ever. I hate Carlton Fisk because of that obnoxious home run and because he bested Johnny Bench for most home runs by a catcher. 1990 was my greatest thrill in sports until my Phillies won the World Series in ’08 and the Mavericks won the NBA championship last year.
As I grew older, my idol was traded to the Dodgers and I began to lose my bond with my team. I had a period with the White Sox and then lost interest in baseball for a while. And then when I immersed myself in the sport, I discovered my Phillies and have been a fan of them for life. But my Reds were my first love and I will always remember my time with them. I had a lot of Reds I idolized. Tom Browning, Jose Rijo, Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, Chris Sabo (who didn’t love his goggles?), Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan (my first daughter was almost named Morgan Rose), Sparky Anderson (probably my favorite coach/manager in any sport). But you really couldn’t separate those Reds from Barry Larkin. Matter of fact, as an adult, I have a Barry Larkin jersey. Now he’s up for the Hall of Fame ballot again in 2012. I think he has the best chance for induction and this is why.
Why he belongs:
12 All-Star Games
No eligible player has appeared in more All-Star games and not been elected. Only 38 players in baseball history have equaled 12 at least all-star games. There are ten who are not in the Hall of Fame yet. Pete Rose (ineligible), Barry Bonds (hasn’t been retired long enough), Alex Rodriguez (still playing), I van Rodriguez (still playing), Ken Griffey, Jr. (hasn’t been retired long enough), Derek Jeter (still playing), Mark McGwire (Mitchell Report), Mike Piazza (hasn’t been retired long enough), Manny Ramirez (currently being Manny) & Mariano Rivera (still playing). 12 All-Star Games equals Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, Mike Schmidt, Tom Seaver & Dave Winfield.
1995 NL MVP, finished in the voting 6 times
3 Gold Gloves (and he played during the time of Ozzie Smith)
9 Silver Sluggers, most by a shortstop
Top 10 in Stolen Bases 5 times, highest finish was 2nd
1 World Series ring in 1990, of which he was the leadoff hitter. He had a .338 lifetime playoff average, .353 in his 1 World Series.
His Hall of Fame Monitor is up to 120. A Hall of Famer is 100 or higher.
Baseball-reference.com lists similar players as Ryne Sandberg, Joe Cronin, Roberto Alomar & Pee Wee Reese (all HOFers).
And here is the best indicator. In 2011, Barry Larkin received his greatest percentage of the vote. He came in 3rd place that year. 1st and 2nd were elected that year. Therefore he is the highest voted-on player without making the Hall of Fame that is currently on the ballot.
Why he doesn’t:
He was never really competitive when it came to his numbers. He only finished in the top 10 in batting average 4 times, runs 4 times, hits 3 times, doubles once and triples twice, home runs and RBI’s… 0.
His career numbers are good, but are they THAT good? 2081 games puts him at #139. 7937 at bats puts him at #145. 1329 runs is a number that stands out to me, but that’s only #108, however it’s still more than Richie Ashburn, Luke Appling & Ryne Sandberg. 2340 hits is pretty good, but that makes him #131 still better than Eddie Mathews, Jim Bottomley & Bobby Wallace. 441 Doubles puts him also at #108, still better than Luke Appling, Eddie Collins & Billy Wililams. 939 Walks gives him #147, better than Willie Stargell, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench. 198 home runs ties him with Rondell White for #303. 960 RBI’s gives him #309. (In his defense, he did spend a majority of his career as a lead-off hitter.) The only major category he is in the top 100 is steals, where he’s #87. That’s more than George Sisler, Sam Crawford & Rod Carew.
All in all… Looking at this, I really can’t think of a reason not to induct Barry Larkin into the Hall of Fame. The guy is a Hall of Famer through and through. Voters, get this right.