Baseball Hall of Fame debate: Jeff Kent – the best power-hitting 2B ever – on the outside looking in

History will show that Jeff Kent may have been the greatest power-hitting second baseman ever.

Yet apparently, not up to the Baseball Hall of Fame standards set by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

This is Kent’s eighth year on the ballot, and barring a dramatic turn in voting, Kent looks like he’ll be on the outside looking in, hoping the Era Committees steps in to rescue him one day.

He has two more years on the ballot after this year, and the ballot will be greatly diminished in a year with the eligibility of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling expiring.

Still, it provides little hope that anything will change for Kent.

Who would ever imagine that you can hit more home runs (351 out of 377) as a second baseman in history, the second highest-slugging percentage by a second baseman (.500) and third in OPS (.855) and still get left out in the cold?

Kent during the 2002 World Series. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY)

The case for

Well, you see the numbers.

Kent hit 74 more homers than Ryne Sandberg and 85 more than Joe Morgan.

He's the only second baseman in history with a higher slugging percentage is Rogers Hornsby (.577).

And he ranks third in OPS among all second basemen behind only Hornsby (1.010) and Charlie Gehringer (.884).

He also has a resume that includes five All-Star appearances, four Silver Sluggers, a National League MVP award, while helping lead four different teams reach the postseason.

The case against

While Kent has the power numbers, he doesn’t have the all-around offensive numbers, let alone defensive ability.

He has a career 55.4 WAR, but the average Hall of Fame second baseman has a career 69.5 WAR.

He spent 17 years in the big leagues, but never led the league in any major offensive category, rarely the best player on his team, and even overshadowed by Barry Bonds in his 2000 MVP season with the San Francisco Giants.

He also doesn’t have any illustrious milestones with 2,461 career hits, 377 total homers and a career .290 batting average.

It’s his defense that hurts his case the most. He was never considered anything more than a below-average defender, and four times led the National League in errors by a second baseman.

Voting trends

Kent garnered 15.2 of the vote in his first year, but his vote total has remained flat, not moving until last year when it jumped from 18.1% to 27.5%.

This was the year he needed to make a big jump, but according Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker, he hasn’t budged at all. It virtually dooms his chances considering this is a weak class where no first-time player on the ballot is even remotely making a push.

We’ve seen some big leaps before – like Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez – but none like what would be required for Kent.


Kent, who played in the heart of the steroid era with bloated offensive numbers, simply might have come along at the wrong time.

Sure, he has a higher batting average, drove in more runs and hit more homers than second base contemporaries Sandberg (2005) and Craig Biggio (2015), but the traditional numbers were crushed by the advanced metric stats.

Simply, too many voters put a heavy emphasis on WAR, and Kent’s career 55.4 WAR ranks 19th among all second basemen.

Realistically, Kent’s only chance to be in the Hall of Fame is in 2025 when he’s eligible to be on Today’s Gamer Era Committee ballot, who may take a more favorable look at his traditional stats.

Source: Read Full Article