I’ve been planning to write something touting Barry Larkin’s Hall of Fame candidacy because he’s one of several deserving players on this year’s ballot not getting enough love, but in the meantime here’s the next best thing (or maybe even the slightly better thing) …
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark used some numbers from an article I wrote several years ago to help him make the compelling case for Larkin:
In my book, I cited a study done by Aaron Gleeman, over at the ever-thoughtful hardballtimes.com, after Larkin retired. What he found was another important fact that’s been lost on the masses–that very few shortstops in history have ever outperformed their peers to the extent Larkin did. Here’s the breakdown:
Larkin’s career batting average–over 19 seasons, remember–was .295. The average shortstop in that time hit .256. That’s a difference of 39 points–or 15 percent. Larkin’s career on-base percentage was .371. The average shortstop’s OBP was .317. So Larkin beat that by 54 points–or 17 percent. Larkin’s career slugging percentage was .444. The average shortstop slugged .361. So that’s an 83-point gap–or 23 percent.
And that brings us to OPS. Larkin (.815) was 137 points–or 20 percent–better than the average shortstop of his time (.678). The only two shortstops in the past 35 years who had an OPS that much better than the rest of their generation were A-Rod (31 percent) and Nomar Garciaparra (25 percent). But both of them moved to other positions before end-of-career declines shrunk those gaps.
One, obviously I agree 100 percent with Stark. Larkin should not only be a Hall of Famer, he should be a relatively easy pick for the reasons laid out in the above excerpt and many other factors.
Two, let this be a lesson to any other national writers with huge audiences out there: Mentioning me and citing my previous work is basically guaranteed to get you a link back in this space, in much the same way that flashing the bat signal will summon Batman or putting a microphone in front of Scott Boras will produce a quote about how one of his .250-hitting clients is better than Albert Pujols and Zack Greinke, combined.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.