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Old 02-01-2009, 03:55 PM   #1
CKFresh
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Default Is Barry Larkin a Hall of Famer?

I'm a huge Barry Larkin fan. After much research, I am of the opinion that he is one of the most underrated players of the last 30 years, at least with the casual fans.

However, the people who actually study statistics and the "value" of players recognize his greatness. Bill James rates Larkin as one of the top ten "most complete players of all time."

Here's a nice piece on the subject:

Is Barry Larkin a Hall of Famer?

I did a quick little study based on an e-mail conversation this week, so I decided to post it. What follows is a look at all Retrosheet-Era Hall of Fame shortstops, plus the best of the others that came to mind.

Methods in brief, should you care: I used batted wins from b-ref, converted them to WAR (+2 wins/season), added an innings-based position adjustments for each position played (based on modern day position adjustments, which may not be appropriate...), and then added TotalZone fielding estimates for each of these players. Non-retired players had their 2008 bUZR totals added to their TotalZone values, as I only have TotalZone data through 2007. There is no adjustment for level of competition, even though this has certainly increased over the years.

Here they are, sorted by total value in wins above replacement (elected HoFers with a +):

WAR Hitting Fielding PosAdj Total Value
Alex Rodriguez 77.4 -1.9 6.8 82.4
Cal Ripken+ 56.1 6.2 11.5 73.8
Robin Yount+ 56.3 -2.3 8.1 62.1
Barry Larkin 45.0 3.5 9.1 57.6
Ernie Banks+* 55.1 5.4 -5.7 54.8
Alan Trammell 39.0 5.1 9.6 53.7
Derek Jeter 49.8 -9.2 8.9 49.5
Ozzie Smith+ 17.3 16.7 11.3 45.3
Miguel Tejada 31.1 0.5 7.7 39.2
Luis Aparicio+ 4.9 14.3 11.7 30.9
Omar Vizquel 9.6 6.7 11.7 28.0
Mark Belanger -5.6 23.8 8.0 26.2
Davey Concepcion 13.4 3.0 9.6 26.0

Ripken was better than Larkin, but no one would argue otherwise. And Yount probably was too, though he was really only a shortstop during the first half of his career (his negative fielding numbers are from his CF days). Same for Rodriguez. But you can make a legitimate claim, I think, that Larkin is the third best retired shortstop from the Retrosheet Era (at worst, he's tied with Banks in value, and probably has a slight edge), and 4th best overall. Among pure shortstops, we're talking #2 or 3 depending on how far of a lead ARod got before he switched to 3B.

Aparicio seems like an outlier (why him and not Belanger?), but Larkin's lead over Ozzie is striking. To me, 4th-best is clearly good enough for the Hall, given that we're talking about more than 50 years at the most challenging defensive position aside from pitcher & catcher. Doesn't hurt that he did win an MVP, helped redefine his position, was a great guy, etc.

While Larkin was better, Trammell and Jeter also would seem to have pretty legitimate arguments for HoF consideration. Tejada, not so much, especially if he continues to tail off. And the steroids thing won't help matters with the voters.

Concepcion, unfortunately, doesn't come out very well in this analysis. But his fielding hasn't looked as good as I'd expect according to several of these kinds of statistics. I don't know if that means we tend to overvalue his defense as Reds fans, or that TotalZone is just missing on him for some reason. Tango did a WOWY study including Concepcion a while back, and I think he found that he was a better fielding shortstop than these numbers would indicate. Yet even with Belanger numbers, he's only "just" Ozzie Smith's equal. Very borderline if there's a case there at all...
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:08 PM   #2
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The guys on MLB Network have been talking about Larkin's chances to get into the Hall. It seems they think he should, as I do. He was one of the best SS's in his generation of players.
19 years, 1995 MVP, 12 all star games, 9 silver slugger awards, 3 gold gloves (amazing, considering he played at the same time as Ozzie Smith), .295 BA, more walks than strikeouts for his career.
Fresh, you'll get no argument out of me. Barry Larkin should be in the Hall of Fame as soon as he is on the ballot.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:34 AM   #3
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Well said cat
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:59 AM   #4
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What's the argument against Larkin in the Hall of Fame? Not to disparage the work you did or anything, just surprised me that there is anti-Larkin in the Hall of Fame sentiment.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:29 AM   #5
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I would say if there is an argument to be made against Larkin it is his durability. Of his 19 seasons he only played in 140+ in 7 of them. Second would be that based on the similarity score his numbers compare most favorably to that of Alan Trammell and Ray Durham neither of which or Hall of Famers.

I think his numbers make it somewhat debatable if he deserves to be in, but, I suspect that because of how he played the game and that he was always seen as one of the good guys will win him enough votes to get in. Maybe not on the first ballot but the second or third.
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:44 AM   #6
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Here's the problem I have. Ozzie Smith was a first ballot HOFer, and barely anyone disputes that. I almost always hear arguments that say Larkin is "borderline." Larkin was CLEARLY a more productive baseball player. Larkin was CLEARLY the better player.

If Smith is a first ballot guy, Larkin should be a no-brainer.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:30 PM   #7
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Not sure I'd say he was a "better" player than Ozzie, but I like defense in baseball.
As I said, Barry Larkin should get into the Hall as soon as he is on the ballot.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:44 PM   #8
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But Ozzie gets in primarily based on the notion that most experts consider him by far the greatest defensive player at the position and they think that should count for something. In addition to that he also gets some love from voters for the same reason Larkin probably will and that being the intangibles he brought to the game as well as being a generally nice guy to deal with.

Look at how many folks considered Brooks Robinson to be the greatest 3B ever even though he was a fairly mediocre hitter with decent pop in his bat.

If you base it solely on offense sure Larkin is the better player but how do you quantify the number of games Ozzie won or saved with his glove as opposed to the rest of his peers?

I am not saying Larkin should not get in I am only stating that if I were tasked with making an argument against Larkin those are the points I would focus on.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Yeah, I wouldn't put Larkin ahead of Ozzie either. But, it seems to me like the Shortstops in Larkin's years of playing were...1. Ozzie 2. Ripken 3. Larkin. That just seems like first ballot to me because shortstop is the most important position on a team in my mind. To be top 3 in his time playing at that position, that's Hall of Fame. Larkin did everything at a high level.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:16 PM   #10
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I agree with much of what you guys say.

When I say Larkin was the "better" player, I mean that he was more valuable to his team. Doub asks how you can quantify the defensive value of someone like Smith, and they do have statistics for things like that.

In short, I would put it like this - Smith was a great defender and a below average hitter. Larkin was a good/great defender a good/great hitter. Larkin was only slightly behind Smith defensively, however Larkin was twice the hitter that Smtih was even in his best years.

In other words, according all of the "latest" forms of statistical analysis, Larkin was a more valuable asset than Smith.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:34 PM   #11
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Actually, according to baseball reference Ozzie was an average hitter for the era he played in. He just had below average power.

The value of a player to his team is all relative to how the team is constructed. Whitey Herzog valued middle infielders who were exceptional with the glove because the team was built to win with pitching, defense, and speed. Once Ozzie became a good hitter after moving to STL his main role in the offense was to put the ball in play and advance the leadoff hitter if he was on base. Not to mention he was one of the toughest guys to strike out in that era as well.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:51 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doublee View Post
Actually, according to baseball reference Ozzie was an average hitter for the era he played in. He just had below average power.

The value of a player to his team is all relative to how the team is constructed. Whitey Herzog valued middle infielders who were exceptional with the glove because the team was built to win with pitching, defense, and speed. Once Ozzie became a good hitter after moving to STL his main role in the offense was to put the ball in play and advance the leadoff hitter if he was on base. Not to mention he was one of the toughest guys to strike out in that era as well.
My point of "value," is based on the idea of a generic team, and the production of the two players. Barry Larkin was more productive overall than Ozzie Smith.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:48 AM   #13
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Fresh, I don't think you'll sway anyone with this argument. Lets just say that Larkin should be a 1st ballot HOFer and leave the comparisons to future generations of fans, OK?
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Old 02-03-2009, 10:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catman View Post
Fresh, I don't think you'll sway anyone with this argument. Lets just say that Larkin should be a 1st ballot HOFer and leave the comparisons to future generations of fans, OK?
Well, I don't really have to "sway" anyone. Advanced statistical analysis proves it.

But sure, we can agree on your point.
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Old 02-03-2009, 11:50 AM   #15
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You mentioned TotalZone rating for fielding. It would seem rather silly to argue TotalZone rating as an example of "advanced statistical analysis."
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