Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Larkin Named to Hall of Fame

On Monday, the Baseball Writers' Association of America announced that former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin has been voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The 12-time All-Star was chosen on 495 of 573 ballots (86%), well above the necessary 75 percent.

This year marked Larkin's third time on the ballot. He fell 75 votes short of making it into the Hall last year.

Larkin, who was named National League MVP in 1995, will be inducted July 22nd in Cooperstown, NY along with the late Ron Santo, who was elected by the Veterans Committee.

Over his 19-year career with the Reds, Larkin posted a .295 average along with with 198 HR, 960 RBI, 2,340 hits, 1,329 runs scored and 379 stolen bases.

I don't wish to debate Larkin's place in history or his worthiness for votes, however, it is likely that the nine-time Silver Slugger Award winner and three-time Gold Glove Award winner, received a boost from voters thanks to the limited options available for induction this year. Truth be told, with all due respect to Santo, it is better for business in Cooperstown if there is an actual player, who was voted in, to be inducted into the Hall. The sense of urgency is evidenced by Larkin's 134 vote jump over his 2011 total.

Celebrating more players makes the induction weekend feel more complete in many aspects. Rest assured that this concept is considered by the voting writers, who must cover the stories surrounding each year's Hall of Fame class, including voting results as well as the ceremonies. There are not many of them that would wish to write about how they all dropped the ball by leaving deserving guys on the shelf and they certainly wouldn't want to have to create stories without a living inductee to quote, when July comes around.

It seems as though in recent years there have been other instances when a player made the cut as the best available guy "on the bubble" (see Burt Blylevin, 2011 and Jim Rice, 2009).

Pitcher Jack Morris fell short with just 67% of votes this year. Morris, who pitched with Detroit, Toronto, Minnesota and Cleveland, recorded the most wins of any hurler in the 1980's. In addition, slugger Jeff Bagwell was named on 56% of submitted ballots, while reliever Lee Smith was the only other player on more than half (50.6%) of the ballots this year.

Next year's vote will prove much more interesting with the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling all eligible for the first time.

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