| USA TODAY
History will show that Jeff Kent may have been the greatest powerful second baseman ever.
Still, 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 without a dramatic turn in the vote, Kent looks like he wants to be on the outside and look in, and hopes the time committees go in to save him one day.
He has two more years on the ballot after this year, and the ballot will be greatly reduced in a year with the expiration of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling.
Still, there is little hope that anything will change for Kent.
Who would have ever imagined that you could beat more home runs (351 out of 377) as a second baseman in history, the second highest slugging percentage of a second baseman (.500) and the third in OPS (.855) and still get left out in the cold?
The case for
You see the numbers.
Kent hit 74 more homers than Ryne Sandberg and 85 more than Joe Morgan.
He is the only other baseman in history with a higher slugging percentage is Rogers Hornsby (.577).
And he ranks third in the PPP among all other 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 into the mail season.
The case against
While Kent has the power numbers, he does not have the all-round offensive numbers, let alone the defensive ability.
He has a career of 55.4 WAR, but the average second baseman in the Hall of Fame has a career of 69.5 WAR.
He spent 17 years in the major 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 has no famous milestones with 2461 career hits, 377 total homers and a career .290 batting average.
It is his defense that hurts his case the most. He was never considered anything more than an below-average defender, leading the National League four times in error by a second baseman.
Kent received 15.2 of the votes in his first year, but his vote has remained flat, and did not move until last year when it jumped from 18.1% to 27.5%.
This was the year he needed to make a big leap, but according to Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall of Fame tracker, he has not beaten at all. It almost judges his chances considering that this is a weak class where no first-time player on the ballot even pushes externally.
We’ve seen some big leaps before – like Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez – but no one likes what would be necessary for Kent.
Kent, who was playing in the heart of the steroid era with inflated offensive numbers, had simply come together at the wrong time.
Sure, he has a higher stroke average, drove in several races and hit more homers than second-base contemporaries Sandberg (2005) and Craig Biggio (2015), but the traditional numbers were shattered by the advanced metric statistics.
For many voters, WAR simply places great emphasis on WAR, and Kent’s career 55.4 WAR ranks 19th among all other basemen.
Realistically, Kent’s only chance is to be on the Hall of Fame in 2025 when he qualifies to participate in today’s vote on the Gamer Era Committee, which can look more favorably on his traditional statistics.