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Is Barry Larkin The Greatest MLB Shortstop Ever?

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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

From 1986 to 2004, a fantastic shortstop showed he knew how to gracefully defend the great uniform of the Cincinnati Reds, one of MLB’s best teams in the seventies and eighties: Barry Larkin was his name.

Speedy, athletic, and solid in nearly all facets of the game, Larkin put together an excellent career, one that made him one of the best players at his position.

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Larkin’s career was impressive form just about any angle.

Is he the greatest shortstop in the history of the league?

The answer is no, although he was an authentic star back in the day.

 

He Was Incredibly Good, But Not The Best

Larkin hit .295/.371/.444 with 198 home runs, 1,329 runs scored, 960 RBI, and 379 stolen bases.

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He was an above-average hitter, evidenced by his solid .815 OPS.

Larkin was also a very, very good fielder: however, since part of his prime was shared with Ozzie Smith (the greatest defensive shortstop of all time) he “only” won three Gold Gloves, between 1994 and 1996.

The Reds’ star was also an on-base threat: he stole as many as 51 bases in a single season, in 1995.

That year, he won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award, after hitting .319/.394/.492 with 15 homers, 98 runs, and 66 RBI, plus the 51 thefts.

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A year later, he would become the first shortstop with a 30-30 season: he was a real dual threat.

Larkin went to the All-Star Game 12 times (1988–1991, 1993–1997, 1999, 2000, 2004), and lifted the World Series trophy in 1990.

Besides the already mentioned MVP and Gold Glove awards, he won the Silver Slugger nine times (1988–1992, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999).

The Reds retired his number 11, and since 2012, he is a member of the Hall of Fame.

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He accumulated 67 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is a way to measure how much a player contributed to his team compared to a replacement-level player.

WAR considers offense, defense, baserunning, and virtually every contribution.

Among MLB shortstops in history, his WAR output ranks 10th.

That’s why he can’t be considered the best of all time: statistically, a handful of shortstop were just better.

 

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Other Shortstops Had Better Careers

Honus Wagner, for example, had 138.1 WAR, leading the standings.

Alex Rodriguez played a lot of shortstop during his early years, and was significantly better than Larkin.

Cal Ripken Jr. accumulated 92.5 WAR, much more than Larkin, and also has a bigger place in baseball because of his record for consecutive games played.

Derek Jeter had 73.1 WAR, and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, with five World Series rings and lots of postseason records.

Larkin was considerably better at hitting than Smith, but the latter was just superior defensively.

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In short, Larking was a fantastic MLB shortstop, a true star in a league in which that particular word is often misused.

He is, deservingly, a Hall of Famer if we consider his statistical output and what he means to the game.

But he is not the best shortstop ever: Wagner, Jeter, Ripken, and Smith are all better than him, and some other lesser known players at the position also have a case to be regarded as better than Larkin.

The post Is Barry Larkin The Greatest MLB Shortstop Ever? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Kansas State upsets Oklahoma, again: Wildcats beat No. 6 Sooners for third time in four seasons

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No. 6 Oklahoma suffered its first loss of the Brent Venables era, 41-34, at home to his alma mater, Kansas State. With a third loss to the Wildcats in the past four seasons, the Sooners are 0-1 in Big 12 play for just the third time since 2012.

The Sooners won their first three games of the season by a combined 127-30, but the Wildcats cleared the 30-point mark midway through the fourth quarter thanks to monster game from quarterback Adrian Martinez. The Nebraska transfer threw for 234 yards, rushed for 148 more and scored all five Wildcats touchdowns in a career-best performance against an inconsistent Sooners defense. 

Martinez’s biggest play came late in the fourth quarter while facing third-and-16. After Oklahoma got pressure, Martinez stepped up and ran 55 yards deep into the red zone. He scored a few plays later to give the Wildcats a two-touchdown lead. 

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The Oklahoma defense will get the brunt of the blame by allowing 509 yards and 6.1 yards per play, but the offense had consistency issues of its own. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw touchdowns of 56 and 50 yards in the first half, but 11 of his other 24 completions went for five yards or fewer. Oklahoma’s offense only reached the red zone three times and scored two touchdowns, though one came with only 35 seconds remaining. 

Oklahoma lost its Big 12 opener for the first time since the COVID-19-shortened season in 2020, when it had just one nonconference matchup. Naturally, that loss came to Kansas State. The last time Oklahoma lost a Big 12 opener in a normal year was 2012. The loss? Kansas State. Since 2012, Oklahoma has lost only nine home games, but four of those have been to Kansas State

The Wildcats’ performance was a wild swing from a 17-10 loss to Tulane one week ago. Suddenly, they sit at 3-1 and tied for first place in the Big 12 at 1-0.

CBS Sports will update this story with takeaways from the game. 

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Is Hendon Hooker a strong contender for the HEISMAN?! | No. One CFB Show

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RJ Young reacts to the Tennessee Volunteers’ victory against the Florida Gators and breaks down why Hendon Hooker could be having a Heisman season here.



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Adrian Martinez runs for 4 TDs, K-State stuns No. 6 Sooners 41-34

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Kansas State QB Adrian Martinez ran for 148 yards and four touchdowns, and the Wildcats stunned No. 6 Oklahoma 41-34 on Saturday.



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