Barry Larkin wasn't elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame until his third year of eligibility, but when Cooperstown finally called his name, the 19-year shortstop got exactly what he deserved.
Larkin was a career .295 hitter with 2,340 hits, and boasted one of the best combinations of offense and defense from the SS position.
Don't believe me?
Here's a quick rundown of his resume:
- 12-time All-Star
- Three-time Gold Glove winner
- Nine-time Silver Slugger
- 1990 World Series champion
- 1995 NL MVP
So, with that being said, is that what it takes to reach Cooperstown?
If so, here are seven shortstops who may find themselves in the HOF after it's all said and done.
Career Average: .313
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .976
Career Accomplishments: 13-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion, five-time Gold Glove award winner, four-time Silver Slugger, 1996 AL Rookie of the Year, 2000 All-Star game MVP and 2000 World Series MVP.
This is a no-brainer.
Given Derek Jeter's resume, there's no doubt in my mind that he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
As the record holder for the most career hits and stolen bases in Yankees' history—the most historic franchise in baseball—Jeter has lead his team to the pinnacle of baseball greatness five times and continues to be a model citizen off the field, most notably with his Turn 2 Foundation.
So, here's to you, DJ, for arguably being the greatest shortstop to ever grace the diamond.
Career Average: .272
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .986
Career Accomplishments: Three-time All-Star and 11 Gold Glove awards
Despite hitting better than .300 in just one season and never driving in more than 72 runs in a season, Omar Vizquel belongs in the Hall of Fame.
As evident by his 11 Gold Glove awards, Vizquel was a defensive guru at short, and he also excelled on the base paths with his speed.
Vizquel reached the 20 or more steal plateau eight times during his 23-year career and has exemplified what a Hall of Fame shortstop should look like.
Career Average: .302
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .977
Career Accomplishments: Seven-time All-Star, 2008 Gold Glove winner, 2005 AL Batting Champion, and 2006 All-Star game MVP
Yes, I'm aware that Michael Young has now moved to the DH role for the Texas Rangers and began his career as a second baseman, but in my mind he's one of the best shortstops of this era.
Young won his only Gold Glove playing shortstop for the Rangers and is everything a manager wants in a ball player.
Between 2003-2007, he compiled four consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits, something Derek Jeter, a surefire Hall of Famer, hasn't even accomplished.
Young was incredible last season—hitting .338 with 213 hits, 106 RBI and 88 runs. If he can continue to put up solid numbers like that for the next few seasons, I think he has a legit shot of making it to Cooperstown.
Career Average: .286
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .970
Career Accomplishments: Two-time World Series champion, 2010 World Series MVP, three-time Silver Slugger, two-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star
To me, Edgar Renteria is one of those guys who flew under the radar during his days of playing shortstop.
He only had one season that saw him drive in at least 100 runs but had 10 seasons of at least 16 steals and always found a way to come up in the clutch during the postseason.
I'm honestly not sure if those numbers are good enough to get him into the HOF, but they're definitely worth a good look by the voters.
Career Average: .290
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .973
Career Accomplishments: 2011 NL Batting Champion, four-time All-Star, 2006 Silver Slugger, three-time NL stolen base leader and four-time MLB triples leader.
I'm not going to lie—I'm not a big Jose Reyes fan, but you've got to give props to a guy who hit more triples and stole more bases than anyone other than Ty Cobb through his first 1,000 games.
If Reyes does find his way to Cooperstown, it's not going to be because of his power, but rather his speed.
He's got 390 career stolen bases, and at just 29, will have an opportunity to steal a heck of a lot more barring any health problems.
The key for Reyes will be if he can stay on the field long enough during the second half of his career to make a run at the HOF.
Career Average: .292
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .985
Career Accomplishments: Two-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner, two-time Silver Slugger and he hit for the cycle on August 10, 2009
Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies is easily one of the game's top shortstops.
In four out of five complete seasons, Tulo has hit at least 24 home runs.
Last season was his best yet, when he hit .302 with 30 HR and a career-high 105 RBI for the Colorado Rockies.
The 27-year-old has battled some injuries here in 2012, which is a shame, because I really love watching this future Hall of Famer play the game.
If he stays healthy, Tulo will find himself in Cooperstown.
Career Average: .299
Career SS Fielding Percentage: .960
Career Accomplishments: Two-time All-Star, youngest player to lead the NL in hits (2011) and holds the record for the most RBI in a MLB debut (6)
Sure, his defense could use some work, but Starlin Castro is a flat-out hitting machine.
As a 20-year-old rookie in 2010, Castro hit .300 in 125 games and followed that up with a 207-hit, .307-average campaign in 2011, in which he became the youngest player at the age of 21 to lead the NL in hits.
Castro still has many years to go before he'll have an opportunity to hear his name called to Cooperstown, but if he continues to hit the way he has for the past three seasons, I think he'll find himself amongst Barry Larkin and Derek Jeter in the HOF.
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