OPS+ of 116
9 Silver Sluggers
12 All Star Appearances
1 MVP Award (1995)
9 seasons with .300 average
20 homer-20 steal seasons: 2
The Case for Larkin
Larkin was one of the most productive hitters at shortstop during his era. He hit .300 9 times, won 9 Silver Slugger awards, and the 1995 MVP award. He finished with 2340 career hits and 379 steals, all with the Cincinnati Reds.
The Case Against Larkin
Larkin appears to have had a difficult time staying healthy, appearing in 140+ games only 7 times out of 17 (strike year excluded). His contemporaries were either excellent hitters and solid fielders, or excellent fielders who hit at an above average clip.
12 All-Star Appearances and 5 All-Star starts tends to lead me to believe that Larkin was consistently among the top players at his position each year. He spent most of his seasons fighting Ozzie Smith for that position at the game. He won the Most Valuable Player award in 1995 behind a 15 homer, 51 stolen base, .319/.394/.492 season.
His overall career totals do not seem that impressive to me (379 steals, 2340 hits), so let’s take a look at the year-to-year numbers and see if there are some elite periods in there. From 1989-1996, Larkin hit .298 or better 7 times, stole 20 bases 5 times, and hit 15+ homers 3 times. This appears to be his longest period of excellence. However, during that time, he only played 150 games 2 times, and in the strike years (1994, 1995), he did play in almost all of the games played that year.
The problem I keep running into is that Larkin never really seems to have been elite. He never had a 200 hit season, had only 2 100 run seasons, and really seems like he was not dominant for even a couple of years. Based on that, I am inclined to believe that Larkin is a very good player, and had a very good career. However, I do not believe that he warrants Hall of Fame induction.
MY VOTE: NO