In his third year of eligibility, former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Larkin received 86.4 percent of the vote, a comfortable margin from the 75 percent needed for election. And it was a rise of 24.3Barry Larkin eased into election into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday with 86.4 percent of the vote.percent from 2011, the largest jump in one year since 1948.
I’m not here today to tell you why Larkin does not belong in the Hall of Fame. I believe he does belong. He was one of the finest shortstops to ever play and contributed with a combination of speed (379 career stolen bases) and power (198 homers, including 33 in 1996). Larkin could also flash some glove, as his three Gold Gloves attest. He played in 12 All-Star games and was the National League MVP in 1995.
But one of Larkin’s contemporaries, at least for a while, was Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell. Now in his 11th year on the Hall of Fame ballot, Trammell received 211 votes this year, 36.8 percent of those available. It was a climb of 12.8 percent from the previous season, but Trammell is still far short of the necessary 75 percent and has only four more years on the Baseball Writer’s Association of America ballot.
Yet the careers of Larkin and Trammell are relatively easy to compare because they played in generally the same era and played almost the same amount of games.
Larkin played in 2,180 games during a 19-year career than spanned 1986-2004. Trammell’s 20-year career started in 1977 and he retired following the 1996 season, after playing in 2,293 games.
Both were outstanding defensively – Larkin winning three Gold Gloves and Trammell four. Larkin played in 12 All-Star games to only six for Trammell.
Trammell played in 13 postseason games, including helping the Tigers win the 1984 World Series. He batted .333 in those games with three homers and 11 RBI.
Larkin, whose Reds beat the Oakland A’s in the 1990 World Series, batted .338 in 17 postseason games, but with no homers and only three RBI.
So far, it’s impossible to separate the two. That comes, I suppose, in their regular-season numbers, although I’ll let you determine the level of disparity.
Batting average: Larkin .295; Trammell .285
Hits: Larkin 2,340; Trammell 2,365
Doubles: Larkin 441; Trammell 412
Triples: Larkin 76; Trammell 55
Home runs: Larkin 198; Trammell 185
RBI: Larkin 960; Trammell 1,003
Stolen bases: Larkin 379; Trammell 236
OPS (combined on-base, slugging percentage): Larkin .815; Trammell .767
As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of difference in some of these offensive numbers. But in most of them, Larkin does have an advantage. And I’m sure if you break down the numbers into sabermetrics, the difference is more stark.Former Detroit Tigers shortstop Alan Trammell still has a ways to go for election into the Baseball Hall of Fame.Still, it’s difficult to see how Larkin is getting nearly 50 percent more support over Trammell among Hall of Fame voters. Larkin did have more pop offensively and was a bigger threat on the bases. But not by much. Certainly not enough, in my opinion, to explain the wide gap in their Hall of Fame votes.
Trammell’s best bet might be to get in based on the vote of the Veteran’s Committee. He has better credentials than some of the 22 shortstops who are now in the Hall of Fame, including Dave Bancroft, Rabbit Moranville, Joe Tinker, Phil Rizzuto, Lou Boudreau and Pee Wee Reese. Some of those guys were selected by the Veteran’s Committee after their 15-year eligibility window with the baseball writers closed.
Trammell is deserving. His career was just a tick behind that of Larkin, who got in easily in only his third year on the ballot.
Trammell might have struggled to gain an individual identity while in Detroit. He spent most of his career playing alongside Lou Whitaker, an outstanding second baseman who just might have Hall of Fame credentials himself, although he failed to receive the necessary five percent of votes to remain on the ballot in 2001, the only year his name has appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Trammell also played with guys like Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish and pitcher Jack Morris, who finished second to Larkin in this year’s Hall of Fame voting at 66.7, just 8.3 percent short of what he needs to be elected.