With the retirement of second baseman Jeff Kent now a thing of the past, the argument now shifts to his credentials for the Hall Of Fame.
In my opinion, he is not only worthy of the Hall of Fame, but he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. What sets him apart from the tainted numbers of other sluggers in his era, was Kent’s vehement opposition to steroids.
Let’s look at what some in the media are saying about Jeff Kent this morning.
Rob Neyer, ESPN – When I wrinkle my nose, I smell a second baseman who hit more home runs than any other second baseman has ever hit. I smell a second baseman who drove in 100 runs in eight different seasons (no other second baseman has done that), and I smell a second baseman who, though he didn’t run particularly well, scored 100 runs in three different seasons. I also see a second baseman who, while not a brilliant defender, was actually pretty good with the glove; good enough, anyway, to still be playing the position regularly at the age of 40 (and for a first-place team, no less).
Jerry Crasnick, ESPN – As Kent formally announces his retirement Thursday at Dodger Stadium, his abrasive personality will take a back seat to the accomplishments that make him plaque-worthy. His 351 home runs as a second baseman are 74 more than Ryne Sandberg hit at the position, and he ranks second all-time in RBIs among second basemen to Nap Lajoie. And here’s the ultimate twist: While Bonds is scheduled to appear first on the Hall of Fame ballot, his former teammate, antagonist and verbal sparring partner might very well beat him to the steps of Cooperstown.
Bill Price, Daily News – Kent was never a great fielder. He had to hide somewhere and most teams chose to put him at second base. Also, Kent played in the steroids era, so all of the numbers from that time have to be judged on some sort of scale. 600 homers may have to be the new 500 homers. And while Kent’s numbers may have gotten him into the Hall of Fame 10 years ago, they are comparable to several other players who will be retiring soon or have already retired and likely won’t ever get in. Albert Belle has more homers (381) than Kent. Is he a Hall of Famer?
Tony DeMarco, The Examiner – Kent is a five time All-Star and 2000 NL MVP. His primary career numbers: .290, 377 home runs, 1,518 RBI, .356 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage. He will get no Hall of Fames votes for personality, and at times even was a divisive clubhouse force — whether it was battling with Barry Bonds in San Francisco or questioning the integrity of younger teammates in Los Angeles. His candidacy could be a prolonged one. The numbers are borderline for most positions, but are among the top handful all-time for second baseman, although it must be noted that his career ran concurrent with the steroids/offensive explosion era.
Dave Sheinin, Washington Post – Without doing a whole lot of number-crunching here, I’m inclined to say Kent is deserving of election to Cooperstown in five years. He was certainly one of the dominant second basemen of his era, along with Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio. And his candidacy will be largely defined by the fact he holds the all-time record for homers by a second baseman, with 351, or 74 more than Ryne Sandberg.
What do you guys think?
And one more thing, what team’s cap does he wear?