The 2010 HOF Ballot â€“ The Case for Barry Larkin
Barry Larkin appears on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Given his career achievements, he certainly has the credentials to be inducted into the Hall.
In nineteen big league seasons, Barry had 2340 hits in 2180 games, a .295 batting average and an on-base-percentage of .371. He scored 1329 runs while knocking in 960. These are impressive numbers – but such numbers do not always mean a lot to fans of the game. The real question when assessing a playerâ€™s career achievements is how did he stack up against the other great players at his position and, more broadly, against the other great players of his time?
This is precisely what the CAWS Career Gauge attempts to do. It demonstrates whether a player has obvious Hall of Fame numbers by comparing his career with that of the other great players at his position as well as the greatest players of the period. And Barry Larkin looks very good indeed in these comparisons.
In the modern era (since 1920), only ninety-six (96) position players have accumulated HOF numbers on the playing field during the regular season. Of these, only thirteen were shortstops. Here are those players. The first number is career win shares, the second is core value (the win shares for the ten best seasons) and the third is the CAWS score. Bold print means they are in the Hall of Fame.
The Shortstops with Obvious HOF Numbers (through the 2008 season)
|4.||Cal Ripken Jr.
|10.||Pee Wee Reese
As you can see, Barry Larkin has the seventh best career enjoyed by a shortstop in the modern era. Many fans would say that statement alone should establish his place in the Hall of Fame. It could be argued that the top ten players at each position probably deserve induction into the shrine at Cooperstown.
You will note that ARod is still considered a shortstop here. As long as he continues to have played more games at short than anywhere else, that will remain the case. And note that Derek Jeter is also still active and should continue to move up this list.
Note also that Alan Trammell is the only shortstop on this list who has been eligible for the Hall and has not been elected. He is still on the ballot and deserves induction into the Hall of Fame.
Here are a few shortstops who are in the Hall of Fame but whose careers rank below those of the players above.
Of course, a few of these shortstops are from the dead-ball era but it gives you some idea of just where Barry Larkin ranks among the greats of the game at his position.
Finally, in judging whether Larkin is truly worthy of induction into the Hall, letâ€™s take a look at where he ranks overall among the best position players of the modern era.
I mentioned above that according to the CAWS Gauge, there are only ninety-six (96) position players who have accumulated obvious HOF numbers since 1920. From that list, here are those players who are just above and just below Barry Larkin.
|82.||Pee Wee Reese||SS||314||236||263|
You can see that Barry Larkin is the #70 player among these 96 outstanding players. That means that he had the 70th best career numbers among position players in the last ninety years. (As an aside, you will also notice some other interesting names on the list who also deserve serious consideration.)
So, we are not talking here about a marginal player who is trying to just barely squeeze into the Hall a la Jim Rice. In Barry Larkin, we have a great modern shortstop thoroughly deserving of his place in Cooperstown.
If anyone would like to receive a free e-copy of Michael Hobanâ€™s 100-page monograph: A HOF HANDBOOK: Who Belongs and Who Does Not, on the right sidebar click on Hobanâ€™s HALL OF FAME HANDBOOK.