The year we make contact

2010: It’s not just the title of a Roy Scheider movie I like a lot more than I probably should, it’s also the next time we’ll have Hall of Fame results. Today, FanHouse’s Matt Snyder takes a look at the list of next year’s first-time eligibles. He has Roberto Alomar as “probable,” Barry Larkin, Fred McGriff, and Edgar Martinez as “debatable,” Andres Galaraga, Ellis Burks, and Robin Ventura as “doubtful,” and a bunch of fun names as one-and-dones.

I’m inclined to flip-flop Alomar and Larkin. Not because I think that Larkin is more deserving of induction than Alomar is, but because I think a lot of logic-challenged voters do.

For one thing, though Alomar received considerably more MVP support over the course of his career than did Larkin, Larkin actually won the award once, and if Alan Trammell and Bert Blyleven are any example, the Hall of Fame voters extract a penalty for the lack of end-of-season hardware. I also think that voters will give Larkin more credit for his World Series ring than they will Alomar for his two, with the reasoning being that Alomar had better teammates than did Larkin and thus somehow was required to carry less of a load. That’s hooey of course — Alomar was a beast in 1992 and 1993 — but Joe Carter’s shadow looms large. Finally, though Snyder dismisses it due to the fact that there is an accepted apology on the record, if you think that a good number of Hall of Fame voters won’t hold the spitting incident against Alomar, you’re crazy.

Ultimately I think they should go in and both will go in. I just think that the voters will make Alomar wait longer than Larkin.

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  1. Brian O'Neal said...

    I think Larkin and Alomar are both first-ballot Hall of Famers. I don’t know about the Joe Carter shadow . . . he’s not getting much respect from Hall voters – I mean, compare him to Jim Rice . . . see your point though.

    Alomar has the demerits of not playing for one team his entire career, of being in a spitting at an umpire incident, and playing a position that is not as glamorous as Larkin. Alomar’s MVP stats were helped by the quality of the teams he played on though, don’t you think?

    Larkin was even better the year after he won his MVP, which should count for something, too, yeah?

  2. mkd said...

    It’s funny, I’ve scattered a few comments across the intertubes stating that this whole Jim Rice fiasco has exhausted me on caring about the HOF. Apparently this was a pack of rotten lies.

    Edgar for the Hall of Fame!

  3. Pete Toms said...

    I only follow HOF debates by osmosis, but for what it’s worth, Alomar is the Jays greatest player to date.  ( This coming from somebody who thinks Stieb was superior to Morris, which is more about my biases than any objective evaluation )

  4. Daniel said...

    I have to disagree with this one – as much as Larkin’s good guy/gamer image will help him, I think his lack of dominance in any statistical categories will hurt him.  He is basically a contemporary of Ripken, and if Raines is hurt by being the second best leadoff guy while Henderson played, why wouldn’t Larkin be hurt by being the second best shortstop while Ripken played?  Don’t get me wrong, I thought Larkin was great while he was playing and would not hesitate to vote for him if I could, but I think he may fall just short of the Hall next year.

    Alomar, however, despite the spitting incident, was considered the best second baseman for most of his career.  The gold gloves will help as well.  I see him having a better shot than Larkin, but who knows.

  5. The Common Man said...

    “I also think that voters will give Larkin more credit for his World Series ring than they will Alomar for his two, with the reasoning being that Alomar had better teammates than did Larkin and thus somehow was required to carry less of a load.”

    I think it’s good to remember that, while Larkin was a key component of his Reds team in 1990 that won the series, he was far from the best/widely touted player.  The Nasty Boys got all the headlines, Jose Rijo won the series MVP, Eric Davis was the best player on that team.  Actually, 1990 was a relatively bad year for Larkin (.301/.358/.396), with his lowest OPS+ (104) between 1988 and 1998.  I mean, I know that perception counts more than facts in these debates, and Larkin certainly had a better career than any of his teammates, but he just wasn’t as big a force on that team as I think we’re thinking.

  6. Chris Kash said...

    Craig, 2010 is a great movie, on it’s own merits.

    on topic, Alomar has the 2 rings and the defensive reputaion, so that will put him in. I could honestly see Larkin being left out for 2 or 3 years. Voters will site his durability issues, his lack of milestone numbers and say his D doesn’t measure up to contemporaries like late-career Ozzie, or Vizquel, just because he wasn’t terribly flashy.

    After 2009 I have no faith in the BBWAA to make a rational decison as a body.

  7. Aaron Moreno said...

    I say Larkin gets in his first year because people like him, and he is perceived as being a classic shortstop just before the steroid era.

  8. Ron said...

    I think Kurt Stillwell should get votes that year, for being the player traded away so Larkin could be the regular SS.

    I mean, its only fair.

  9. APBA Guy said...

    I was living in DC during the Alomar incident, while he played in Baltimore, and I saw the incident in real time on TV. It will hurt his vote total.

    It wasn’t just the spitting, which is bad enough when you read it on the page. It was also how ugly the whole episode looked. Robby had to be restrained by multiple players, with an alarmingly savage look on his face. It just made Robby look insane. Then he compounded the damage by claiming that Hirschbeck (the ump) hadn’t been the same since Hirschbeck’s son had died (of a rare nerve disease).

    What Hirschbeck had done was call Alomar out on a 3rd strike.

    At the time most print reporters, and many players and fans, felt that Alomar had done himself permanent reputational damage, despite a belated apology and charity donation. Clearly, despite more than 12 years passage of time, that judgement has proven correct.

    How much damage was done will be measured in part by his HoF vote because, let’s be clear, not only did Alomar look like the best second basemen of his era when he played, his career stats compared to his contemporaries establish him as just that.

  10. JT said...

    Growing up in the Cincinnati area, I’ve always been curious how Larkin was perceived outside of the city. I pretty much expect him to get about 50% this year and take maybe 3-4 years to get in. Which is a shame in this Reds fan’s eyes, but that’s the price you pay when you don’t have a “NY” on your cap.

    Then again, Molitor got in on the first ballot, and I never considered him a Hall of Famer, let alone a first-ballot HOFer, while he was playing.

  11. Bill said...

    I’m shocked that someone thinks this…I’ve always assumed Alomar would be a shoo-in (maybe 1st ballot, maybe 2nd) while Larkin would have to sweat it out. I think they’re both definitely deserving, but Alomar got all the press throughout their careers, that one MVP award be damned. He teamed up with Ripken to make the Best Middle Infield Ever, then teamed up with Vizquel to make the New Best Middle Infield Ever. (People overrated his D quite a bit, just like they did Omar’s. And Ripken’s. But he was good.) Meanwhile, Larkin toiled away in Cincy and missed like 30 games a year.

    Again, I think they’re both entirely deserving. I was just amazed that my idea of the voters’ perception of them was so different from yours…

  12. The Common Man said...

    “At the time most print reporters, and many players and fans, felt that Alomar had done himself permanent reputational damage….  Clearly, despite more than 12 years passage of time, that judgement has proven correct.”

    Is that really clear?  I’m not sure.  I don’t know that we’ll actually have the answer to that until next year.  I have a hard time believing one incident will overturn 17 seasons that left him as one of the top 10 2B of all time.  I mean, people bring up the spitting incident as a possible factor, but has anyone actually said they wouldn’t vote for him?

  13. VanderBirch said...

    Gotta go with Bill and Daniel on this one. Larkin is the type of player that always seems to be underappreciated by the BBWAA. While he did win an MVP, he didn’t hit any major career milestones nor dominate any facet of the game (like stealing a ton of bases or playing Ozzie Smith D). Larkin was sort of an uber-Trammel. Strong on-base guy, good power for a SS, 370 odd steals and a good percentage and solid D for a long period of time, but nothing that really sears in the memory. Given the inability of the BBWAA to illustrate any nuance in their analysis of players, I tend to think he has to wait 2-3 years for enshrinement.

    In contrast I tend to think Alomar’s Gold Gloves give him a better shot at getting in on the first ballot. He has a little more flash to him, and as Daniel notes, he was widely perceived as the best second basemen during the 90’s, whereas I think Larkin’s career has been somewhat overshadowed by Ozzie, Ripken and then the emergence of Jeter/A-Rod/Nomar.

    They are both exceptionally good players though, and had very similar careers. Larkin had 181 career WSAB, Alomar 189. Both should be 1st balloters.

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