How Will Jeff Kent Be Remembered?
What these problems hide is the fact that Kent was a helluva hitter for a decade, especially for a second basemen. Does it add up to a Hall of Famer though?
Pros for Induction
His career numbers compare favorably to other second basemen. His 377 home runs is more than any other second sacker is baseball history. Kent's career line is .290/.356/.500, good for 123 OPS+. This is a higher figure than all but seven of the second basement in the Hall of Fame. Admittedly though, those seven are probably the best of the best: Hornsby, Lajoie, Collins, Robinson, Morgan, Carew, Gehringer.
Kent had a fantastic ten year peak, starting once he hit San Francisco, including hitting .334/.424/.596 in 2000, winning the NL MVP. This was all done in a pitchers park in San Francisco, and later Dodger Stadium (with a two year stop in Houston). From 1998-2007, Kent hit at least .289, OBP'ed at least .348, and slugged over .500 all but once. Again, this while playing in mostly pitching parks and playing a mostly defensive position.
Cons Against Induction
This might not have much to do with how he played, but Kent is of course seen as a jerk, and it's those instances that get remembered over his hitting.
Kent's career path was quite strange. His peak started at age 29 and went through age 39. Kent hit better in every one of his last 11 seasons (save 2008) than he did at any point in the first five years of his career. It's an odd career path in a time of great speculation of how that happened. That's not an accusation, but portions of the electorate could easily think like this.
Kent was a great offensive player, but had a horrible defensive reputation, frequently ranking near the bottom in both fielding percentage and range factor.
The way it went was a little odd, but in the end, Jeff Kent was one of the best hitting second basemen of all-time, despite the buffoonery and jackassitude. I'm not sure Kent will get in, but at this point, I'm leaning towards believing that he should go in.
What are your thoughts on Jeff Kent's career and potential entrance into the Hall of Fame?