The voting for the 2023 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame was announced on Tuesday, and Scott Rolen was the only player elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rolen will join Fred McGriff, elected last month by the veterans committee, as the two new Hall of Famers inducted this summer.
What this means from a Dodgers perspective is that former LA second baseman Jeff Kent is out of tries. In his tenth and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot, Kent got 46.5% of the vote, well shy of the 75% needed for election. It was a big jump for Kent, up from 32.7% last year, but not nearly enough.
The case for Kent is simple: He hit more home runs as a second baseman than anyone else ever has, before or since.
The case against him is more complicated, as he wasn’t ever actually a very good second baseman and probably would have been better suited to first base or designated hitter, the only other positions he played in the last 12 years of his career. At first base or DH, his Hall of Fame case takes a major hit — his 123 career OPS+ and 377 career homers are both right behind Ryan Howard, who got two percent of the vote in his only time on the ballot. Guys like Derrek Lee and Joe Adcock are also floating around there.
Of course, those numbers also put him near Harold Baines and Tony Perez, both of whom eventually got a veterans committee with enough of their friends on it to get elected, and Gil Hodges, who took 50 years to get elected even with a boost from his time as the manager of one of the most miraculous World Series winners in history.
So if you take away the “most homers by a second baseman,” Kent is in mixed company. But the fact is, he did hit the most home runs as a second baseman, and that means something. Whether he should have been playing second base is a different discussion, one his managers over his 17 years undoubtedly had each spring, and they kept coming back to “yes.”
Kent will probably eventually get into the Hall, but it’s now official: He won’t be elected by the BBWAA.
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