In 1999 the Cincinnati Reds won 96 games and didn’t even make the playoffs. They lost the division by one game to Houston. They and the Mets tied for the wild card. The Mets shut out the Reds 5-0 to make the playoffs leaving the Reds out. It was a disappointing ending to a great season by Larkin and the Reds. The Reds went down fighting they were 19-9 in September. However, they lost 2 out of 3 to Milwaukee in October before the Mets beat them for the playoff. In early September the Reds won 7 in a row. They started the streak 3 games back and ended it 3 games back. That must have been a bit frustrating.
With 10 games left they were 2 and a half games behind the Astros but won five in a row to tie them. Then they went to Houston and beat them to win their sixth in a row and take a one game lead. However, they lost the next day to the Astros and fell back into a tie. The Astros won 2 of their last 3 and the Reds lost despite winning their last game. A good book could probably be written about this three-team race for two spots.
After all this I wonder how Larkin did that season and at the end of the season. It wasn’t Larkin’s best season, but it was his final real good season as he was 35 years old. Injuries and age held him back the last 5 years of his 19-year career. In 1999 Larkin who was never a great walker, hit 293 but also walked 93 times (the second highest in his career) to get on base over 260 times. Larkin scored 100 runs for the second and last time in his career.
in September and October Larkin showed his age as he batted only .256. However, he worked his way to 24 walks in 32 games giving his a real good on base percentage during that time of .389. He ended up scoring 23 runs and driving in 24 in those 32 games and nobody can complain about that. I wonder if he worked so many walks for those games as his bat was getting tired. At the age of 35 he played in 161 of the Reds 163 games.
One of the things like Ryne Sandberg Larkin was solid at doing everything. He didn’t have Sandberg’s power, but he did play shortstop a more difficult position. Larkin was the leader in the field of the 1990 World Series Champion Reds being above average in every aspect: running, hitting and fielding. That is what he did his whole career to reach the hall of fame.