Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Case for Jeff Kent 1/13/21

 Hey baseball fans!

It's my first post of 2021 and it's a doozy! Because we are officially in the month when we find out the 2021 Hall of Fame class, it's time to ramp up the Hall of Fame content on Baseball with Matt. With that being said, let's talk about Jeff Kent, who is appearing on the ballot for the eighth time this year. Given his voting percentage of roughly 27% last year, his Cooperstown chances are slim, but he is certainly a Hall of Famer. Here's why:

Jeff Kent has a weird career. Usually, players slow down as they age. Their first decade in baseball is, by and large, much better than their second. That's not the case with Jeff Kent. Much like Paul O'Neill, Kent had a couple of alright seasons in his 20s, but his career really took off in his 30s, specifically as the starting second baseman for the Giants, Astros, and Dodgers. The sheer fact that his career numbers look flipped, with better seasons occurring in the latter half of his career, is probably a huge bias for Hall of Fame voters. But, as I've stated, the accumulation of statistics is what's more important than individual seasons when it comes to Hall of Fame legitimacy, no matter when the bulk of that accumulation took place.

Kent's numbers are more impressive when you consider the fact that he was a second baseman. For a lot of positions, mainly corner infielders and the outfield, defensive positioning isn't that important when considering offensive statistics. But second baseman aren't usually signed to be amazing hitters. Elite defense is required at the position, but elite offense is a competitive advantage that Kent definitely has. For starters, Kent is the all-time leader among second baseman when it comes to homers (377) and third in RBIs (1,518, behind Hall of Fame legends Rogers Hornsby and Nap Lajoie), while his 2,461 career hits rank above Hall of Fame second basemen such as Ryne Sandberg and Bobby Doerr. Then, there are the seasonal averages: a .290 batting average, with 22 homers and 89 RBIs over 17 years, not to mention his .500 career slugging percentage, which only ranks under Hornsby for the category among non-active second basemen. 

And then there are the intangibles. He won the MVP in 2000 and was a pivotal part of the 2002 pennant-winning Giants and the 2004 almost-pennant-winning Astros. I could mention the four All Star Games and four Silver Sluggers, but I don't need awards to determine how good of a second baseman Jeff Kent really was. If I were to sum up Jeff Kent's Hall of Fame candidacy in one sentence (and you really only need one), he was, by far, one of the most powerful second basemen baseball has ever seen, and, for that reason, deserves to be talked about by future generations of baseball fans who use the Hall as a lesson plan. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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