Is Barry Larkin a Hall Of Famer.
Well….he has a National League MVP award, 11 All Star appearances [with his latest one at the age of 40], 3 gold gloves [which should have been more] and a World Series ring. He is the best and most loved Cincinnati Red over the past 25 years. He has been the leader of a franchise thru some of it’s most trying times.
But, numbers wise, he is just shy of 200 home runs, 1000 RBI, 400 stolen bases and is just short of a .300 lifetime batting average. He played his entire career in a small market. Also, in his entire time in Cincinnati….he only went to 2 postseasons and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice.
And though he is well loved in Cincinnati….he never really has been the “Face Of The Franchise” outside of Cincy. It has been Eric Davis…..or Chris Sabo….or Jose Rijo….or Ken Griffey, Jr. There have been huge coaching names like Lou Pinella, Davey Johnson, Tony Perez, Ray Knight and Bob Boone. Not to mention the huge clouds of Pete Rose and Marge Schott lurking overhead.
And the biggest obstacle is the fact that he was a hybrid of the generations he linked. He was an excellent defensive shortstop….but not as good as the names he came in with: Ozzie Smith, Gary Templeton, Shawn Dunston and Tony Fernandez. He was a very good hitting shortstop….but not as good as the names of today: Nomar, Jeter and A-Rod. Actually, you could compare Larkin’s numbers to Rich Aurilia and they’d look pretty much the same. And Aurilia isn’t a HOFer. Cal Ripken, Jr. was the same type of player as Larkin…..but Larkin doesn’t have “The Streak” to put him into Cooperstown.
Look at the names of the living shortstops in the Hall Of Fame. Luis Apricio, Ernie Banks, Phil Rizzuto, Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount. I’m sure many voters couldn’t really see Barry Larkin’s name alongside those greats. Just look at guys like Alan Trammel not getting over the hump.
The sad reality is that Larkin won’t make it to the Hall Of Fame….and that is a shame. For a period in the early to mid-90s….he was the best shortstop in the National League. And he has been my favorite baseball player of my lifetime.