Five-time All-Star and 2000 National League MVP Jeff Kent was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the 10th time this year. As such, it was his last BBWAA vote without much drama. He will not get 75% of the vote and his name will not be remembered, he will lose.
it yes It’s entirely possible, though, that he’ll be elected to the Hall by committee, as Fred McGriff has done this year. Should he succeed? Should he get more love on the BBWAA ballot? For that matter, his highest percentage was last year’s 32.7, and he’s likely to top that and still get less than half the vote. let’s see.
Kent’s case is repulsive. No, not like him screaming at strangers on the subway, but his bat. He slashed .290/.356/.500 for part of 17 seasons, which is good news for 123 OPS+. He had 2,461 hits, 560 doubles, 377 home runs, 1,518 RBIs and 1,320 runs.
Among junior second basemen with at least 700 games played, only Kent and inner circle great Rogers Hornsby hit .500 or better. Among junior second basemen, Kent ranks 12th in runs and 13th in hits, but that’s his calling card, especially relative to others at his position. He is fifth in doubles behind Craig Biggio, Knapp Rajoy, Charlie Greener and Robinson Cano. Only Lajoie and Hornsby had higher RBIs, while Kent was both in the 100s.
Of course, among junior second basemen, Kent leads the league in home runs with 377. Cano is second with 335 home runs, Hornsby is second with 301, followed by Biggio with 291 and Ryan Sandberg with 282. No one else within 100 of Kent.
For me, “Hall of Famer” has a strong pull. Home runs are the best a batsman can do in any given cricket appearance, and Kent has hit his position more than anyone else by a sizable margin. Seems like there should be extra points, right?
We could have more fun with the power numbers to illustrate how consistent he’s been with the power numbers for a decade or so.
If I were looking for players with at least 20 homers and 80 RBIs in a season among players who were at No. 2 at least half the time, Kent did that 10 times. Canó, Hornsby and Joe Gordon did it seven times. Dan Uggla did it six times. Nobody does more than five.
How about 25 homers and 100 RBIs in the second sack? Kent did it six times, with Cano and Hornsby finishing second with four. Gordon and Chase Utley did it three times, and no one has more than two such seasons. Hell, only Sandberg, Alfonso Soriano, Bret Boone and Bobby Doerr did it twice. That’s it. Only nine second basemen have multiple 25-HR, 100-RBI seasons, and Kent has done it six times.
It’s really a master profile for his particular skill set.
Often viewed as a poor defender due to his lack of range at second base, Kent seems to be hurt by the new-school voting sentiment, which cares more about gloves than his predecessor. Plus, the period in which he’s amassing all those nifty stats is a huge offensive era in baseball history. For example, when he hit 31 homers and 128 RBIs in 1998, he was tied for 27th in home runs and eighth in RBIs.
This significantly dragged down his performance on the WAR and JAWS measurements.
Kent ranks 19th among second basemen, well below the current Hall of Famer average and in the same league as Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia and Tony Phillips. In JAWS, he’s 21st, actually behind Pedrioa and Kinsler. He wasn’t much ahead of Ben Zobrist. All very good players, to be clear, but this is not a company that a sure-fire Hall of Famer would keep.
Kent should have had much better luck with the Age Council, though. These committees are much smaller voting bodies that discuss players together before voting. This year’s panel originally consisted of three media members, six executives and seven Hall of Famers (Chipper Jones had to pull out at the last minute and be replaced by an executive, but we all get that). Clearly, this smaller group seems less willing to delve into the details of the WAR and JAWS rankings and more likely to look at the statistics. It’s also possible that Kent could get a supporter or two in the room, perhaps ex-teammates vouching for him as a pro or just how impressive a hitter he is himself. This can affect a room.
Looking back at the players Kent was closely associated with in the Second Base Wars, we also find names like Billy Herman, Joe Gordon, Beed McPhee and Bobby Dole, while he was far ahead Nellie Fox, Johnny Evers, Tony Lazzeri, Reid Schondienst and Bill Mazeroski. All of these players are Hall of Famers, none of whom were voted in by the BBWAA. Instead, they await the committee’s selection. Can Kent follow in their footsteps?
The Contemporary Baseball Era Committee met at this past winter meeting to discuss the player portion of the ballot. It looks like the same committee will meet again in December 2025 to present the 2026 Hall of Fame class. Kent is sure to be on that ballot, and he has a good chance of making it. If it wasn’t for that vote, my hunch is he would have voted through committee at some point.
Jeff Kent isn’t currently a Hall of Famer, but getting out of the BBWAA ballot might actually be the best way for him to get a chance. With the strength of the second baseman alone, I believe he should have space.