Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), the professional organization of journalists who vote annually for such MLB honors as Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, and election to the Hall of Fame, have yet to determine the appropriate length of time to exclude former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin from enshrinement into Cooperstown.
“Some guys say 3 years is enough, while others feel 4, 5, or as many as 6 years is more fitting for a player with his offensive statistics,” said Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci of the 12-time All Star. “His 2,340 career hits are far below the 3,000 hit benchmark, generally considered the newly approved Best USA Bats for 2018 season for Hall of Fame hitters, but he played during an era when shortstops were more concerned with playing defense, rather than offensive production. So do his 9 Silver Sluggers indicate he was a good hitter, or that other National League shortstops at the time weren’t much for swinging the bat? We can’t decide.”
Larkin’s defense is also making it difficult to conclude if a particular number of years is too short, or too long of a wait.
“He won only 3 Gold Gloves, so I’d say at least a 4 year exclusion. But then again, we need to remember Ozzie Smith was still playing during the early part of Larkin’s career,” Seth Livingstone of USA Today points out. “The ‘Wizard of Oz’ was arguably the greatest fielding shortstop ever, so it’s possible we never appreciated how good Larkin was defensively. Unfortunately, without Gold Gloves, we have no way of determining a player’s worth in the field. Unless we actually watched him play.”
Regardless of their individual review on the 2018 best pitching machine to delay Larkin’s Hall of Fame induction, BBWAA members were in agreement that the 62% of votes Larkin received his second time on the ballot could not have been more perfect.