5 Reasons Why Former San Francisco Giants Second Baseman Jeff Kent Deserves Hall of Fame Recognition
Former San Francisco Giants' Second Baseman Jeff Kent Deserves Hall of Fame Recognition
Former National League MVP and San Francisco Giants’ second baseman Jeff Kent deserves Hall of Fame recognition at some point. Whether or not the slugging middle infielder earns his turn in Cooperstown remains to be seen, though.
Kent is arguably one of the greatest second baseman to ever play the game, but did not earn first ballot honors when the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced on Wednesday. Kent played 17 seasons in the big leagues, registering 2,461 career hits and an irrefutable .855 OPS.
The Southern California native isn’t among a distinct class of no-doubt Hall-of-Famers, but is indubitably worthy of shrine status in baseball’s illustrious museum. Because that’s exactly what Cooperstown stands for: remembering history. It would be erroneous not to include the greatest power-hitting second baseman in the longstanding history of baseball in the Hall of Fame.
Kent needed roughly 30 votes to remain on the ballot for a second go-around. He received 87 votes in total, surpassing that margin with ease while collecting 15.2 percent of the vote. Most baseball pundits acknowledge Kent’s dominant reign as one of baseball’s best hitters, but collectively decided to temporarily ignore his accomplishments in 2014.
There’s no doubt that Kent was one of the best second baseman of all time, though. His statistics prove it. Kent was a fierce competitor that sustained a winning mentality throughout his near two-decade long career. He’s been freely overlooked by voters, in spite of posting Hall of Fame worthy numbers. The following slideshow highlights five reasons why Kent deserves eventual Hall of Fame recognition.
Most Home Runs Ever
Jeff Kent’s career total of 377 home runs are the most ever for a second baseman. Kent hit at least 21 home runs in 12 different seasons. He was a constant power threat at the plate, demonstrating a candid ability to crush baseballs. He smashed a career-high 37 home runs in 2002 as a member of the Giants, fueling his team to a National League pennant.
Kent’s uncanny power stroke is exemplified in his numbers. The five-time All-Star recorded a .500 slugging percentage in 17 seasons at the big league level, the highest number in that statistical category since Roger Hornsby, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. Kent registered his best slugging percentage in 2000 (.596) en route to winning the National League MVP on a team that featured home run king Barry Bonds.
Kent is the only man at his position to record nine consecutive seasons with at least 62 extra-base hits. His career .290 batting average is a solid number. Kent didn’t accumulate monstrous hit totals by slapping the ball through the infield. He constantly racked balls into the gap, tallying more than 200 total bases in 12 seasons. He also surpassed the 300-base plateau in three seasons. Kent was an extra-base machine, a historic rarity for second basemen.
Kent remains the only second baseman to record six straight seasons with at least 100 runs-batted-in, all of which occurred in a Giants’ uniform. His highest RBI total happened in his MVP season (2000), when his OPS clocked-in at a ridiculous mark of 1.021. He recorded a career-high 350 total bases that season and also helped lead the Giants to a NL West crown.
In 17 big league seasons, Kent finished in the top 10 of MVP voting four times, including a first place finish in 2000. He appeared in five All-Star games, including three in a Giants uniform. He posted a respectable .276 career postseason batting average with nine home runs and 23 runs-batted-in in 189 plate appearances. No matter which statistic you look toward, Kent’s resume is Hall of Fame worthy. Whether or not voters collectively agree remains to be seen.