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This Day in Reds History: Barry Larkin bursts on to the scene

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On this day in Reds history, Barry Larkin made his major league debut.

Matthew Stockman

On this day in 1892, former Red Pink Hawley made his major league debut with the Cardinals. Hawley pitched for the Reds in 1898 and '99. He had a big year in '98, posting a 3.37 ERA (114 ERA+) in 331 innings while posting a 27-11 record. Unfortunately, Hawley struggled in '99, and the Reds sold him to the Giants the following spring.


On this day in 1915, former Red Art Nehf made his major league debut with the Boston Braves. Nehf later appeared in 28 games for the Reds in 1926 and '27.


On this day in 1956, the Redlegs signed catcher Don Pavletich. He spent parts of nine seasons in Cincinnati, hitting .263/.330/.436 (109 OPS+) in just over 1,200 plate appearances. Cincinnati's signing of Pavletich fell under the now-extinct Bonus Rule. At that time, any amateur who signed for more than $4,000 had to spend two full seasons on the major league roster or the team risked losing him to another team. Four "bonus babies", as these players were called, went on to have Hall of Fame careers: Sandy Koufax, Al Kaline, Harmon Killebrew, and Catfish Hunter (Wikipedia).


On this day in 1962, the Reds sold righty Moe Drabowsky to the Kansas City Athletics.


On this day in 1979, former Red Corey Patterson was born in Atlanta, GA. If you had told me at the end of 2008, that Patterson would receive another 768 major league plate appearances, I probably wouldn't have believed you.


On this day in 1986, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin made his major league debut at the age of 22. Larkin pinch-hit for pitcher Rob Murphy in the bottom of the fifth of a game against the Giants. He grounded out, but the play scored Nick Esasky and earned Larkin his first of 960 career RBI.

Putting aside Alex Rodriguez due to positional questions, Derek Jeter is widely considered to be the best shortstop since Cal Ripken, Jr. Until Jeter's late career resurgence, I would have taken Larkin over Jeter with little hesitation. I still think the two are remarkably close as players. Jeter has a career OPS+ of 117. Larkin has a career OPS+ of 116. If that was the extent of their offensive difference, then I'd pick Larkin due to his glove, but Jeter has been incredibly durable, making nearly 12,000 plate appearances in his career. Conversely, the relatively fragile Larkin made just over 9,000 plate appearances. Due to his playing time edge, Jeter has accumulated 369 runs above average with his bat to Larkin's 198, a 171 run advantage. Jeter also has 414 runs from replacement* to Larkin's 283, an edge of 131 runs.

In order to equal Jeter, Larkin needs to make up 302 runs with his defense and baserunning. Is that possible? Maybe, but I have a hard time believing it. Baseball-Reference has Jeter at 231 runs below average with the glove while Larkin saved 18 runs in the field in his career. That's an advantage of 249 runs for Larkin, which cuts his overall deficit to 53 runs. I think anyway you end up slicing it, Larkin was a better player on a per-game basis, but I just can't see Larkin's glove making up for Jeter's 410 extra games in the lineup, but what do you think?

*You have to factor in a replacement adjustment or an average player would appear to be a replacement level player, which clearly isn't true. You can think of this number as the value of being in the lineup.

Source: Derek Jeter & Barry Larkin


On this day in 1987, J.J. Hoover was born in Pittsburgh, PA.


On this day in 2001, the Reds signed righty Johnny Ruffin.


On this day in 2008, the Red Sox claimed righty Marcus McBeth from the Reds off the waiver wire.