Barry Larkin was an easy choice when the Baseball Writers' Association of America named their newest inductee for the Hall of Fame on Monday.
After missing out on his first two tries and coming within 75 votes of election in 2011, Larkin was named on 495 ballots and received 86 percent of the vote.
"I'm just incredibly, incredibly excited," said Larkin. "This is wonderful. I'm just incredibly, incredibly moved by this whole experience and I'm so humbled. I'm so excited about being the newest member of the Hall."
Taken with the fourth overall pick by the Reds 1985, Larkin spent his entire 19 year career in Cincinnati. A 12-time All-Star, Larkin ended his career hitting .295 with 198 home runs, 960 RBI, 2,340 hits and 379 stolen bases. He also won three Gold Gloves and hit .353 during his team's four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics in the 1990 World Series.
"The support from the city of Cincinnati has been absolutely incredible," said Larkin. "Cincinnati is a baseball town. I know there will be a lot of passionate fans in Cooperstown this summer."
Larkin's best season came in 1995 when he was named the NL's MVP after hitting .319 with 15 home runs and 66 RBI in 131 games of a strike-shortened season. He posted career bests the following season with 33 home runs and 89 RBI.
Larkin scored at least 80 runs in a season seven times, hit 30-plus doubles in six seasons and stole 30-or-more bases five times, while winning nine Silver Slugger awards.
The best thing I heard about Larkin: His nine Silver Slugger Awards are the second most by any infielder. Only Alex Rodriguez has more with 10.
But as easy a choice as Larkin seemed to be for the BBWAA this year, they will have their work cut out for them over the next few years as all the key figures of the steroid era start to become eligible.
Sure Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmerio have been up before, but next year Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are all in play for the first time, as well as Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio, not to mention holdovers like Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell, whose numbers are so gaudy that most writers just assume something was up, despite him never being linked to any sort of scandal.
Bonds, of course, is going to be an interesting case study. I mean there really shouldn't be a Hall of Fame if Barry Bonds isn't in it. Or Clemens for that matter. Let's be real Bonds has 762 home runs and seven MVP awards, while Clemens has seven Cy Young Awards and an MVP to his credit.
But, I think we can all agree that they both used steroids.
So what does the BBWAA do? Will they make them wait a year? Or two? Either way the election process is about to become more about the BBWAA's personal feelings on PEDs rather than what went on in an era that was tainted by many not just Bonds.
It's so random anyway. How this group decides something like this is absurd. I mean two people actually voted for Brad Radke to get into the Hall of Fame this past year and that person is actually going to decide whether or not Barry Bonds deserves to be elected? Give me a break.
The Bagwell bias seems to be lessening which is a good sign, as he jumped from 41.7 percent in his first year last year to 56 percent this year.
I've always thought that once Bonds gets in all the other performance enhancing guys will start to get in. Sort of the way relievers like Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage started to get their due once Dennis Eckersley was elected.
That'll be the BBWAA's way of acknowledging that the whole era was stained.
Will it come next year for Bonds or Clemens? I'm going to say probably not since some members of the BBWAA like to make these things about themselves so they will grandstand a bit. Plus it helps that guys like Piazza and Biggio give the Hall a strong class anyway with maybe someone like Bagwell or Morris.
By the way I have no problem with letting Bonds and Clemens sit a year or two, but they deserve to be in there. Sosa probably deserves to get in at some point too.
Tainted or not they were the best players of that era. If not them, then who?
Are we just not going to elect anyone who played in the late 80s up until a few years ago?
If that's the case then maybe Brad Radke is a Hall of Famer.