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.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.