Jayson Stark makes the case for Barry Larkin

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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.

Couple things.
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.

Yankees trade Sonny Gray to the Reds

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The deal was much talked about all weekend and now the deal is done: The Cincinnati Reds gave acquired starter Sonny Gray and lefty Reiver Sanmartin from the Yankees in exchange for second base prospect Shed Long and a 2019 competitive balance pick.

The key to making the deal happen: Gray agreeing to a a three-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The Reds will likewise hold a $12 million club option for 2023. The deal had been struck and a window granted through close of business today to get Gray to agree to the extension and, obviously, he has.

The Reds will get a pitcher coming off of a bad season in which he posted a disappointing 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and seven relief appearances. He was hammered particularly hard in Yankee Stadium but pitched better on the road. Great American Ballpark is not a great pitcher’s park itself but any change of scenery would be nice for Gray, who had become much unwanted and unloved in New York. In Cincinnati he has the assurance of a spot in the rotation and, even better for him, he will be reunited with his college pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who joined new manager David Bell’s Reds staff earlier this offseason. If he bounces back even a little bit, the Reds will have a useful starter at a below market price for four years. If he doesn’t, well, they haven’t exactly gone bankrupt taking the chance.

The Reds will also get Reiver Sanmartin, 22, who started in the Rangers system before being traded to the Yankees. He’s a soft-tosser who figures to be a reliever if he makes the big leagues. He played at four different levels last season, with one game at Double-A and the rest below that, posting a composite 2.80 ERA in 10 starts and 13 overall appearances while striking out 7.8 batters per nine.

The Yankees will get Shed Long, who is ranked as the Reds’ seventh best prospect. The 23-year old second baseman hit .261/.353/.412 at Double-A in 2018 and has hit very close to that overall line for his entire six-year minor league career. He strikes out a bit and may not stick at second base long term, shifting to a corner outfield slot perhaps, but he’s a legitimate prospect.

The Reds get another starter with some upside. The Yankees get rid of a problem and gain a prospect and a draft pick. Sonny Gray gets some job and financial security at a time when it is not at all clear what his future holds. Not a bad baseball trade.

UPDATE: Welp, the Yankees don’t have a prospect anymore. They just traded long to the Mariners for outfielder Josh Stowers. Stowers was a second-round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 21 and batted .260/.380/.410 with five homers and 20 steals over 58 games in Short-Season ball in 2018. He’s ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners’ No. 10 prospect, but now he’s New York bound.