Barry Larkin elected to the Hall of Fame

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We’ve seen this coming for a while, but now it’s official: Barry Larkin — and no one else — has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

As you know, 75% of the vote is required for induction.  Larkin was named on 86% of the ballots. Following him were: Jack Morris, with 66.7% of the vote, Jeff Bagwell, who got 56 percent of the vote, which is a nice increase from last year’s 41.7% and Lee Smith with 50.6%.  Then come Tim Raines (48.7%), Alan Trammell (36.8%) and Edgar Martinez (36.5%). Bernie Williams — with 9.6% — was the only newcomer to survive to be voted upon next year.

Larkin had to wait a year after he first became eligible, but his Hall of Fame bonafides are unquestionable. An all-around threat, Larkin hit .295 for his career and over .300 nine times. He had some power back before shortstops were considered anything close to the power threats they became later in Larkin’s career. He took walks. He stole nearly 400 bases with a great success percentage. He won an MVP award, a World Series and was a 12-time All-Star.

While the standards for the Hall seem to have grown ever-higher in recent years, Larkin is deserving by any standard. He was the best shortstop in the National League for several years and was often the best in all of baseball.  If you were to create the prototypical shortstop, he’d look a hell of a lot like Barry Larkin. Or at least he would if you wanted your prototypical shortstop to be awesome.

We’ll have much more on Larkin and the other vote-getters as the day goes on.  For now, however, congratulations to Barry Larkin: Hall of Famer.

Major League Baseball issues a statement on Trump’s latest travel ban order

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Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.

The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.

To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.

Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.

 

Aaron Judge breaks rookie home run record with 49th, 50th blasts

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made history today, hitting his 49th and 50th home runs, tying and then breaking the rookie record previously held by Mark McGwire of the Oakland Athletics.

Judge’s first dinger came in the third inning of this afternoon’s Royals-Yankees tilt. It was the sixth pitch from Jake Junis and left via right field. His second came in the bottom of the seventh against Trevor Cahill.

McGwire set his record in 1987, needing 151 games to do it. Judge hit his 50th in his 150th game of the season. He has five more games after today to add to that mark. Through his latest at bat in this game Judge is hitting .283/.417/.620 on the year with 50 HR, 108 RBI, 124 runs scored and 119 walks. Given Judge’s strong finish to the season, the AL MVP race should come down to a contest between him and Jose Altuve. It’s hard to argue against either one.

Here’s Judge’s first bomb:

And here’s the second: