The 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot has plenty of worthy contenders to join the Hall of Fame this upcoming year. 14 players return to the ballot, and 19 new players have been listed on the ballot. Today, we look at the career of second baseman Jeff Kent.
Known as one of the best offensive second basemen of his generation, and perhaps all-time, Jeff Kent will once again look to gain entrance into baseball’s most exclusive clubs, the Hall of Fame.
Making the Case: Jeff Kent and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot
Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays with the 521st overall pick in the 20th round of the 1989 MLB June Amateur Draft, Kent would wait three years before making his debut. But during his rookie year, Kent, along with a player to be named later (center fielder Ryan Thompson), would be traded to the New York Mets on August 27th, 1992. In exchange, the Blue Jays acquired pitcher David Cone. After five years with the Mets, Kent, along with shortstop Jose Vizcaino, was traded to the Cleveland Indians on July 29th, 1996. In exchange, the Mets would acquire second baseman Carlos Baerga and shortstop Alvaro Espinoza.
After finishing the year with the Indians, Kent would be traded, along with Vizcaino yet again, pitcher Julian Tavarez, and a player to be named later (pitcher Joe Roa), to the San Francisco Giants on November 13th, 1996. In exchange, the Indians acquired third baseman Matt Williams and Trent Hubbard. After spending six years in San Francisco, Kent became a free agent for the first time in his career. Kent would sign a two-year, $19.9 million dollar deal with the Houston Astros on December 18th, 2002. After those two years, Kent would become a free agent again, this time signing a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on December 15th, 2004. After spending four years with the Dodgers, Kent would announce his retirement on January 22nd, 2009.
Statistics and Accomplishments
During his time in San Francisco, Kent hit a .297 batting average with 175 home runs and 689 RBI. In his time in New York, Kent hit a .279 batting average with 67 home runs and 267 RBI. During his time in Los Angeles, Kent hit a .291 batting average with 75 home runs and 311 RBI. In his time in Houston, Kent hit a .293 batting average with 49 home runs and 200 RBI. For his career, Kent hit a .290 batting average with 377 home runs and 1,518 RBI. Kent also won an MVP award during the 2000 season with the Giants. Kent was also a five-time All-Star, three of them coming with the Giants from 1999-2001. The other nominations came in 2004 with Houston and 2005 with the Dodgers. Kent was also a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three of them coming consecutively with the Giants from 2000-2002. The last Silver Slugger for Kent came in 2005.
The Arguments For and Against
The main argument by many when it comes to Kent’s case is his pure power, which was something that was incredible for an infielder to have. His 377 home runs leads all second baseman in MLB. The biggest argument against Kent was his defensive liability. His WAR sits at 146th among position players, at a 55.2.
Even with Kent’s impressive hardware, this year he will be rejected once again. His defensive struggles combined with a talented class will be too much to get Kent into Cooperstown this time. Kent will have to wait yet another year, but he isn’t too far off from hopefully making baseball’s elite club.
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