Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/13/14

On Sunday, Barry Larkin will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Larkin was the star shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds from 1986 through 2004. It is said that he revolutionized the shortstop position, particularly in the National League, by combining steady hitting, power, speed and excellent defense. He compiled 2,340 hits, fourth most among players who played shortstop their entire career. He hit 198 home runs, putting him behind only Derek Jeter for most home runs by a shortstop in his career. And he stole 379 bases, ranking his sixth among shortstops.

He was a twelve-time All-Star, and won nine Silver Slugger Awards and three Golden Glove Awards. In 1995, he was voted as the National League’s Most Valuable Player.

In the field, Larkin made nifty plays like this:

And plays like this:

I watched him play. Many of you likely watched him play. He had tremendous range and a strong arm.  He made the routine plays and the not-so-routine ones. And he made those plays, on the brutally hot and unforgiving artificial turf in use in Riverfront Stadium and other ballparks in the 1980s and 90s. He made some plays that defied imagination, until you remembered that Larkin entered the University of Michigan as a two-sport star: a shortstop and a defensive back.  And he made those spectacular plays into his late 30s.

In fact, if it weren’t for MLB’s ridiculous policy of keeping it’s games and highlights off YouTube, we could simply watch Barry Larkin highlights all day long. Because that would be a great way to spend a few hours.

With that option off the table, let’s spend some time looking at just how great a player Larkin was for 19 seasons. Not just a great shortstop, but a great player. Unfortunately, our focus is limited to the offensive side of his game, because without more video (other than this gem) and with only rudimentary defensive statistics available for most of his career, there’s not much we can delve into about Larkin’s defense.

So what made Larkin a special player?

Larkin had longevity. Beginning in the 1986 season, when Larkin debuted, through 2004, when he played his last game, only twelve players had at least 9,000 plate appearances. Larkin was one of the twelve, even though he missed he missed significant portions of the 1989, 1997, 2000 and 2001 seasons to injuries. The others with more than 9,000 plate appearances in that 19-year span: Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Fred McGriff, Cal Ripken, Steve Finley, Jeff Bagwell, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson and Sammy Sosa. Of the group, Larkin had the fourth-highest WAR (70.6), behind Bonds, Bagwell and Palmeiro.

Larkin was balanced. As a right-handed batter, he hit only slightly better against left-handed pitchers. He batted .293/.363/.425 against righties and .299/.391/.497 against southpaws. The same was true of his home/road splits. He batted .297/.383/.456 at home and .293/.358/.433 on the road. He did play some favorites, though. He loved hitting at Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, where he had a career line of .347/.411/.547 in 63 games.

Larkin was consistent. Over his career, he batted .293/.364/.436 in the first half of the season and .297/.373/.456 in the second half.

Larkin didn’t wilt under pressure. With the bases empty, he batted .289/.355/.440. With runners in scoring position, he batted .298/.401/.435. In 100 plate appearances as a pinch hitter, Larkin batted .263/.390/.450.

Larkin was unique. In 1988, his breakout season, Larkin recorded a strike-out rate of only 3.7%. That is the eighth-lowest strike-out rate in a season by any player over the 19 years Larkin was in the majors.

Larkin was a winner. Larkin played in 17 postseason games with the Reds. He was the Reds’ shortstop on the 1990 World Series Championship team and on the 1995 National League Central Division winning team. In 78 postseason plate appearances, he batted .338/.397/.465. He stole eight bases and scored 24 runs.

Barry Larkin, great shortstop. Barry Larkin, great player. Barry Larkin, Hall of Famer.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aaron Hernandez jurors allowed to watch Super Bowl

Tiger misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate during presser

Rex Ryan: Seahawks need to ‘take the air out of the football’

J.J. Watt buys cabin in the middle of nowhere to train

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Six teams have done background work on Peterson

NBA set to earn $700M through streaming deal in China

Wade Phillips is the best coordinator hire this offseason

Bill Belichick gives understated scouting report of Tom Brady

Five teams that failed to improve this offseason

Steelers fans were more profane on social media

Most unexpected MLB free agent signings of past 10 years

Five most villainous Super Bowls of all time

Super Bowl ad focuses on acceptance of gay athletes

Foster says UT boosters paid him $40-50K while in college

Ranking the repeat Super Bowl champions

Eric Decker to Sherman: Time your conception a little better

Could Katy Perry and Russell Wilson be dating?

The Media isn't the villain we deserve, but it's the one we need

Are LeBron and the Cavs ready to make a run?

The Super Bowl and the things that can't be controlled

DeMarcus Cousins calls out writer for five-year-old tweet

What if Drew Bledsoe didn't get injured in 2001?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tiger Woods, misses cut: ‘I’m only doing this so I won’t get fined’

Ranking the repeat SB champions

Roger Goodell grilled on Deflategate

Katy Perry, Russell Wilson dating?

Rex Ryan has advice for Seahawks

Super Bowl: Things you can't control

LeBron and the Cavs are ready to make a run

Cousins calls out writer's old tweet

Seahawks praise Brady's trash-talk

Who should be in 2015 HOF class

Rex Ryan downplays Deflategate

Brady hopes Manning comes back

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.