Jeff Kent should finish his career in the top 50 all-time in both HR and RBI. That’s quite an accomplishment for a second baseman. Coupled with the fact that he was also once league MVP – will that be enough to get him elected to Cooperstown?
I asked the question because I really can’t make up my mind about him. I mean is a 2nd baseman just a guy who wasn’t good enough to play short? Does he get extra credit for being the best hitter at his position? As far as hitting — Kent has more total bases already than Wade Boggs (but fewer than Jim Rice).
He had his best years with the Giants (during Bonds’ peak steroid use), so that’ll raise concerns, although Bonds and Kent seemed to hate each other, so who knows. He only has 2350 hits; with a couple of decent years (say he retires end of ’09), maybe he’s got 2600 or 2700. That still puts him in a gray area. Never been known for his defense, so he doesn’t really compare to a Ryne Sandberg type (also certainly was never much of a team leader). And he only finished top 5 in the MVP voting once. I say he’s more likely to be a Dave Parker or Dale Murphy type that hangs around the HOF ballot for a decade, but never gets in.
Though, to counter the above paragraph, there’s a few points I want to make:
1.) Kent will have the benefit of the writers deciding on Alomar before Kent’s turn comes up. Kent has Alomar beat in every major offensive category. I’d argue that Alomar was the better player but Kent will have the better offensive numbers.
2.) Kent will also have the benefit of the writers deciding on Mike Piazza before Kent’s turn comes up. Nobody would argue that Piazza was great defensive player. Piazza’s merits will rest solely on being the best offensive catcher in history (Yogi Berra scoffs at that idea). If you vote for arguably the best offensive catcher — shouldn’t you also cast a vote for the best offensive second baseman?
I think those two things could play a major effect on the mindset regarding Kent when the time comes for a vote.
It should also be noted that Chase Utley is a great player and a great person (from what I’ve read). If Utley has a great season(s) – the comparisons will be made to Kent’s great 2000 season when he had 33 HR, 125 RBI, 114 runs while hitting .334. The comparisons between Utley and Kent will only help Kent.