Former Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent, who spent the last four years of his career with Los Angeles from 2005-08, dropped off the Hall of Fame ballot last week after receiving 46.5% of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility. If Kent is going to make the Hall now, it will be up to the veterans committee, which, under its current setup, could vote on Kent in 2025.
Kent, who has the most home runs and RBIs by a second baseman in major league history, was not thrilled with the results of the voting, and he let his feelings be known in a text conversation reported by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The voting over the years has been too much of a head-scratching embarrassment,” Kent said via text. “Baseball is losing a couple generations of great players that were the best in their era because a couple non-voting stat folks keep comparing those players to players already voted in from generations past and are influencing the votes. It’s unfair to the best players in their own era and those already voted in, in my opinion.
“Steroids clouded the whole system, too, and with the reduction of eligibility years, to clear the ballot deck, I got caught up in it all, I guess.”
Kent has some good points, although the “stat folks” he complains about have generally been the most likely to vote for players who were deserving on the field regardless of their baggage. It’s hard to say exactly what Kent’s point is, because “how does this guy stack up to guys who are already in the Hall?” seems like a pretty reasonable approach to voting.
While it’s unlikely any voters just look at Wins Above Replacement when deciding whom to vote for, Kent’s career WAR — 55.4 on Baseball-Reference, 56 on FanGraphs — is right in the borderline range for the Hall of Fame. His 377 home runs are the most ever for a second baseman, but the number itself isn’t overwhelming. If Kent had been a first baseman, he would have been one-and-done on the ballot. And while he gets credit for playing a tougher position than first base, for a lot of people he doesn’t get enough credit to be elected.
Kent wouldn’t be the worst player in the Hall of Fame, for sure, but it’s not an unspeakable tragedy that he missed out. Chances are he’ll be elected at some point by the veterans committee, and everything will be okay.
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