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.