CINCINNATI -- During his 19-year career with the Reds, Barry Larkin helped revolutionize the persona of the shortstop position by being both a superb fielder and hitter.Larkin was one of the great shortstops of his era, but this will be the first chance to discover whether he is a Hall of Fame shortstop. His name is making its debut on the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
A native of Cincinnati and a graduate of Moeller High School, Larkin was a 1985 first-round Draft pick of his hometown Reds and would spend his entire career with the team. From 1986-2004, he had a lifetime average of .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBIs, 2,340 hits, a .371 on-base percentage and 379 stolen bases. He was a 12-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, a member of the 1990 World Series championship team and the '95 National League Most Valuable Player.Although Larkin's offensive numbers didn't approach the benchmarks of 500 home runs or 3,000 hits, he will still get serious consideration because of his excellence both as a hitter and fielder. A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America members to gain election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Leadoff great Rickey Henderson and former Red Sox slugger Jim Rice reached that threshold to gain entrance in 2009.
Former Expos and Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson (67 percent) and former Twins ace Bert Blyleven (62.7 percent) had the highest totals among those not elected in 2009 voting, and both remain eligible for 2010. They're joined on the ballot this year by a group of newcomers that includes Larkin, former All-Star second baseman Roberto Alomar and Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez.
Results of the election will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Larkin replaced another Reds great shortstop in Davey Concepcion and continued a tradition of strength at the position. Nationally, he assumed the mantle held by Ozzie Smith, who was considered the preeminent shortstop of the 1980s, but like many shortstops of the previous generations was known entirely as a tremendous fielder but also a light hitter."I got more recognized as an offensive threat and multi-dynamic player by hitting home runs and for average and stealing bases while playing good defense," Larkin told MLB.com in 2007 after his election to the Reds Hall of Fame. "I see myself as a trailblazer. It's expected now that if you play shortstop in the big leagues, you have to do well in both sides of the game." That multi-dimensional talent and leadership ability that eventually earned him the formal title of team captain helped pace the Reds during their wire-to-wire run for the title in 1990. Larkin batted .301 with 67 RBIs and 30 steals and went on to bat .353 in the four-game sweep over the A's in the World Series. During his 1995 MVP season, Larkin batted .319 with 15 home runs, 66 RBIs and 51 stolen bases. While his offensive numbers weren't the best in the NL that season, his all-around play was considered pivotal in the Reds' run to a NL Central division title. In 1996, Larkin became the first shortstop in Major League history to be a 30-30 player when he had 33 homers and 36 steals during that season. He was rated by baseball historian Bill James as one of the "10 most complete players in history" and the sixth-greatest shortstop ever. The Reds named him as their captain in 1997, a position he held until retirement. Now 45 years old, Larkin is currently a television analyst for MLB Network. "The Reds are the oldest and most storied franchise," Larkin said in 2007. "Being a part of that, having a chance to play there, growing up as a Reds fan in Cincinnati and living my childhood dream -- it all comes into play. I told players all the time that I'm living a dream."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less