I’ve yet to discuss Hall of Fame credentials on this site, so when it was announced this week that Barry Larkin, the Cinncinatti Reds great shortstop would be the only member of the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame class, I figured I’d take a look into why Larkin is a Hall of Famer. Larkin becomes the 22nd shortstop to be elected to baseball’s hall; but how do his numbers stack up both traditionally and sabrmetrically against names like Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, and Luis Aparicio.
Larkin has won many awards that stack up to paint a picture of him as a Hall of Famer. Larkin was a 12-time All-star, 9-time Silver Slugger, 3-time Gold Glover, and won the 1995 NL MVP award (first by a shortstop since Maury Willis won in 1962). He also was a key member of the Reds 1990 World Series championship team. That’s a pretty solid resume of awards before even delving into the numbers. Larkin also looks like a Hall of Famer when you consider his traditional numbers (hits, RBI’s, home runs, etc.)
I always thought that a Hall of Fame hitter should have 3,000 hits or 500 home runs to be a for sure Hall of Famer. Yet Larkin has only had 2,340 hits and didn’t even hit 200 home runs (198), but compared to the other 21 Hall of Fame shortstops those numbers are still very solid. Among those 21 Cooperstown members, Larkin ranks 10th in both hits and RBI’s (960). He is also 4th in home runs, 6th in stolen bases (379), and tied for 7th in batting average (.295). Thus, based on traditional baseball statistics, Larkin is a top 10 all-time shortstop and should be in Cooperstown. But are his peripherals good enough to be among baseball’s elite?
Hall of Fame shortstops range typically range from 60 to 85 wins in their careers, based on fWAR. Larkin’s career 70.6 fWAR puts him right in the thick of qualifying as an all-time great and he ranks 9th among the current members of baseball’s hall. Many Sabermatricians point to OPS one of the best statistics to determine a hitter’s ability, and Larkin’s career OPS of .815 ranks 5th among the 22 shortstops in Cooperstown. I am not a member of the BBWA and don’t plan on ever being a voter for who should achieve baseball immortality, but if I had a vote, I’d vote for Larkin and I’m glad that he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July.