Larkin favoured for Hall of Fame

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin moves to tag out Milwaukee Brewers baserunner Jose Valentin...

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin moves to tag out Milwaukee Brewers baserunner Jose Valentin in this file photo. (REUTERS FILES/Allen Fredrickson)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:08 AM ET

Who better to judge a Hall of Fame candidate, then a Hall of Famer?

Barry Larkin, a Cincinnati Reds shortstop from the time he made his pro debut at double-A Vermont in 1985 until he retired at the end of 2004, leads all candidates for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown after being named on 62.1% of the ballots last January. 

"The way he went to his right, would jump and throw, I believe he invented that," said Robbie Alomar. "Derek Jeter does it the way Larkin did. 

"I've seen Larkin go to his left too, turn and throw,"  said the Blue Jays' Hall of Fame second baseman. "He's a good offensive hitter. Middle infielders don't get a lot of credit.

"Barry Larkin is a Hall of Famer, he won an MVP award, went to all those all-star games, hopefully it will be his year."

Larkin is the favourite, the top man of returnees since lead man of the incoming class is former New York Yankees centre fielder Bernie Williams, whose qualifications fall short in the opinion of many voting members of Baseball Writers of America Association voters with 10 or more years experience. 

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson will make the announcement -- if the class of 2012 has three, two, one or zero joining the late Ron Santo --  at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon on MLB Network.

The hard numbers on Larkin: 2,340 hits, 2,180 games in 19 seasons, 960 RBIs, 379 stolen bases and an .815 OPS. He won the 1990 World Series as the Reds upset the Oakland A's and five years later won MVP honours as the Reds lost to the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.

Alomar played his first three seasons with the San Diego Padres from 1988-90 so he had a first-hand look at Larkin and says the Reds shortstop was the guy "you didn't want coming up in a crucial situation for the Reds."

The best Jay ever said he would also back former teammate Jack Morris, in his 13th year and third last year on the ballot, coming off 53.5% a year ago.   

"Playing on the same team as Jack, you wanted him on the mound," Alomar said. "If he had to throw 130 pitches he would. What a teammate! If you want a guy to pitch Game 7, Morris was the guy. 

"Morris was a competitor, we faced him when he was with Detroit or Minnesota, you know he was going to stay in the game. I'd love to see him get a shot and be inducted."

Bert Blyleven was inducted a year ago thanks to 242 complete games and 60 shutouts pitching 4,970 innings in 22 seasons. 

Morris joined the Tigers rotation nine years after Blyleven, nine years after managers tended to hand the ninth inning off to the closer finished with 175 complete games and 28 shutouts, pitching 3,824 in 18 seasons.

Morris won 254 games in his 18 seasons far shy of the automatic ticket that comes with 300 and had an ERA of 3,90. 

Other returning candidates include Lee Smith (45.3%), Jeff Bagwell (41.7%), Tim Raines (37.5%), Edgar Martinez (32.9%), Alan Trammell (24.3%). Fred McGriff (17.9%) and Dale Murphy (12.6%).

While Mark McGwire has been on the ballot five years (19.8% a year ago) and Rafael Palmeiro (11%) made his debut a year ago, the height of the steroid era comes next year with the arrival of first-time eligibles Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. 

They'll all get support, but it will be difficult for any to reach the required 75% be elected.

Alomar also had good things to say about Larry Walker, of Maple Ridge, B.C. second amongst newcomers to the ballot last year (20.3%), behind Bagwell. Walker won three batting titles and an MVP award.  

"He was one of the greatest hitters and did it quietly," Alomar said. "He was good in Montreal and great Colorado, maybe he didn't get a lot of exposure.

"It would be nice to see another Canadian elected."


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