This Day in Reds History: Larkin lassoes MVP award

Matthew Stockman

On this day in Reds history, Barry Larkin was named NL MVP.

On this day in 1875, former Red Johnny Kling was born in Kansas City, MO.

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On this day in 1896, the Reds sent righty Chauncey Fisher, shortstop Germany Smith, and $1,000 to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (Dodgers) for shortstop Tommy Corcoran.

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On this day in 1995, the BBWAA named Barry Larkin as the NL MVP. Did you know that Larkin didn't lead the league in a single offensive category in 1995? How often has the MVP not led the league in something? I honestly don't know. Willie Stargell didn't do so in 1979 when he was co-MVP with Keith Hernandez, but that was a weak selection. (Hernandez led the league in runs, doubles, and batting average.) I'm not criticizing the selection of Larkin, but I would think MVP seasons without any black ink are rare.

Larkin, amazingly enough, never led the league in any offensive category. It's actually not that uncommon for Hall of Fame-type players to have very low black ink totals in the expansion era. Carlos Beltran, who I think is a first-rate player, has led the league in games played once and in nothing else. I don't think David Wright* is a Hall of Famer yet, but he is an MVP-type talent, and he has never led the league in a notable statistical category. (He has led the league in sacrifice flies twice.) Chase Utley** led the league in runs in 2006 and hit by pitch on three occasions, though the latter is not a glamour stat.

*When you think about it, David Wright has many similarities with Barry Larkin. Both are good at all aspects of the game -- hitting, fielding, and baserunning. Both have always been known as stand-up guys. Both were/are the face of their respective franchises. It looks as if Wright could retire as a Met, which would make him a one-franchise player like Larkin.

**How great is Chase Utley? His career OPS+ is 126. Brandon Phillips' single-season best OPS+ is 118.

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On this day in 1996, the Reds signed utility player Lenny Harris.

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The finest muffins earned the point yesterday. Hugh Nicol holds the major league record for stolen bases in a season, though the rules at the time allowed a player to earn a steal by taking the extra base on another player's hit.

Barry Larkin posted a 134 OPS+ in 1995, which was good for third among Cincinnati's regulars. Who led the team with a 155 OPS+?

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