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Does Jeff Kent deserve bonus points in the Hall of Fame vote?

Jan 16, 2013, 2:31 PM EDT

jeff-kent

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle asks whether Jeff Kent gets extra credit, if you will, when he’s up for the Hall of Fame next year due to the fact that he was an outspoken critic of baseball’s lack of drug testing:

Perhaps more than any other ballplayer, Kent lobbied for testing when it wasn’t trendy, when the union and much of its membership fought against it. In a clubhouse in which Greg Anderson once had free rein as a drug runner for Bonds and other Giants, Kent often stood at his locker and called for Major League Baseball and the union to iron out a legitimate steroids policy.

Shea details more of the ways in which Kent demonstrated his disapproval of PEDs in baseball.

Which is well and good, but I also wonder why, given the lessons of recent history, any athlete is to be take at his word with respect to PEDs, either positively or negatively.

  1. Reflex - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Frank Thomas is pretty much the AL equivilent to Kent, calling out the issue in the 90’s and often being told he was obsessed or crazy on the topic.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      Yeah people forget that Thomas was pushing for drug testing as early as the 1994 strike.

      • slappymcknucklepunch - Jan 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM

        I also remember him praising Albert Bell for his work out regimen also,you know,chasing down teenage Halloweeners.

  2. Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    while athletes like Kent and Frank Thomas were vocal against steroid use, I think Frank Thomas was the only one who actually tried to do anything about it (he tried to testify in front of Congress but the video feed didn’t work).

    Players like Kent and Schilling took their displeasure of steroid use only to the media – it stopped there…they didn’t do anything in regards to the Union to get anything changed. They could have easily done more but didn’t.

    No bonus points in my mind.

  3. deadeyedesign23 - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Either way I don’t think he should be in the hall of fame.

    • biasedhomer - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      Because he has better numbers than pretty much every other 2B in the HOF?

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:01 PM

        I don’t think he’s a top 10 second baseman given his era (and that’s not to say that he used PED’s just that it was an era of inflated offensive numbers). Rogers Hornsby, Joe Morgan, Eddie Collins, Nap LaJoie, Jackie Robinson, Ryno, Alomar, Carew, Biggio. That’s 9 just off the top of my head.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        Yeah…that isn’t true. I’m not saying he might not be worthy…just that he would certainly not be among the best HOF 2nd basemen

        Remember, the 2nd basemen in the Hall are:

        Rogers Hornsby
        Eddie Collins
        Rod Carew* (though half his career was at 1st base)
        Charlie Gehringer
        Nap Lajoie
        Joe Morgan
        Jackie Robinson
        Roberto Alomar

        Kent ranks 16th all time in WAR for 2nd baseman. Which is great! But let’s not go crazy and start saying “he has better numbers than pretty much every other 2B in the HOF”.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:21 PM

        By comparison, here is who ranks 16th at every other position using WAR

        C: Wally Schang (not in Hall)
        1B: Hank Greenberg (in hall…and missed 3 years to WWII)
        2B: Jeff Kent
        SS: Joe Tinker (in hall)
        3B: Buddy Bell (not in hall)
        LF: Bob Johnson (not in hall)
        CF: Willie Davis (not in hall) [really Fangraphs?]
        RF: Tony Gwynn (in hall)

        I see a lot of people who got little consideration and two pretty clear cut HOFers. I would definitely say Kent is borderline.

      • djpostl - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        @deadeyedesign23

        Even if he is “borderline Top 10″ since there are already 19 2B in the HoF then that means he is pretty damn Hall of Fame worthy.

        I think he is “in the discussion” at least.

        You cite Joe Morgan, for example.

        Kent had him beat in every offensive category except SBs and with a glove, posting an Rtot of -1 for his career, compared to -43 for Morgan.

        Compare him to Ryno, one of my favorite players of all-time and the only thing Sandberg beat him out with was his glove. Offensive Kent had better numbers. Additionally, baseball-reference.com similarity score has Ryno as one of the guys Kent was most like in his career.

        Alomar, similar story. Has a higher average by a tick but less power. Robbie beats him in SBs and with everyone’s perception he beats him with the glove but in reality he didn’t.

        Fangraphs had a great write up on just how similar they were while playing in the same ERA. ( http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/alomar-kent-and-more-hall-of-fame-musings/ ).

      • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:42 PM

        @djpostl Well to me that the hall has already been watered down with people who probably shouldn’t be in isn’t na argument for Jeff Kent. Lloyd Waner is in the hall with a career WAR at 24.2. Does that mean everyone with a WAR higher than that now is a Hall of Famer? No, just that it’s a mistake that he’s in.

        As for looking at his numbers and comparing them to Morgan you’re literally comparing the worst offensive era in modern baseball to the absolute best. Joe Morgan, for everything he lacks as an announcer, is head and shoulder better than Jeff Kent on the field.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM

        “You cite Joe Morgan, for example.

        Kent had him beat in every offensive category except SBs and with a glove, posting an Rtot of -1 for his career, compared to -43 for Morgan.”

        Oh no you fucking didn’t. Are you actually going to compare Jeff Kent to Joe Morgan with a straight face?

        By “every offensive category” you excluded runs, hits, triples, on base percentage, OPS+, walks…Morgan tops him by a whopping 40.6 WAR. And when you say “except stolen bases”, you really mean “Morgan stole 595 more bases”.

        Despite playing in a much lighter era for offense (and part of that career in the offense killing Astrodome, which in the late 60s early 70s, was arguably the worst hitting environment in modern major league history) Morgan still OPS’d Kent at their collective peaks.

        Look, I think there is a pretty good argument for Kent to go the hall. But comparing him to Joe Morgan doesn’t help is case *at all*. Morgan is probably the best 2nd baseman since Rogers Hornsby.

  4. jm91rs - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Why would there be bonus points for something not related to the field of play? If we’re giving bonus points for doing good off the field, Tebow’s already a hall of fame football player. Ridiculous

    • deadeyedesign23 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      What exactly does Tebow do off the field other than proselytize?

  5. tfbuckfutter - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    I kind of got the impression it was a “doth protest too much” situation with him, but that’s more to do with his being a power hitter at a historically light hitting position, and his being a teammate of Barry Bonds, which isn’t fair (but is any of the speculation “fair”?)….

    I do know one thing though….that mustache was definitely a PED when it came to pickin up the ladies.

    • kirkvanhouten - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      …wait a minute:

      Career high in home runs came at age 34
      OPS+ in his 20s was 106, in his 30s it was 133!
      The highest OBP ever by a 39-year-old 2nd baseman…

      Why he must have done steroids! The arbitrary criteria that I pulled out of my ass to prove it proves it!

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:04 PM

        I think it’s more the mustache.

        I don’t trust anyone under 45 who sports just a mustache.

        Except for mechanics. I don’t trust any mechanic who doesn’t have a mustache.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        “Morgan is probably the best 2nd baseman since Rogers Hornsby.”

        Sure Kirk. I will give you that.
        But Joe Morgan was no Tommy Herr!

  6. albertmn - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    My first thought was “Hall of Fame?”. Then, I looked at the numbers. And, I still don’t think he is HOF material. Very good, but not HOF. Even in his one MVP season, you could argue that his own teammate (Bonds) had a better season, just by looking at the numbers. You could even make arguments for the next five guys in the voting for the MVP that year. I wonder if he got bonus points on the MVP for being a 2nd baseman, and for the high batting average (since shown as not necessarily the best measure of effectiveness).

    • Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      without doing the hardcore research, I do believe his stats stack up nice against other already inducted 2nd basemen…

      • djpostl - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Identical to Alomar ( http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/alomar-kent-and-more-hall-of-fame-musings/ ) and he beats out Morgan and even Ryno (though defensively Ryno had him by a mile).

      • stex52 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        Not just not-so-good defensively. He was a travesty at 2nd when he was at Houston. I think dWAR doesnt’t capture it fully because he didn’t even try to get at grounders that weren’t right at him.

      • jeffrp - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        A quick look at WAR shows Kent right in the mix with HOFers Alomar and Sandberg and snubs Whitaker and Grich.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=860,1005033,1119,1011411,1013846

        Of course he fairs less well in comparison to inner circle 2b Hornsby, Lajoie and Morgan.

        http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=1006030,1119,1009179,1007259

        Ultimately I think he’ll fall short as voters discount the impact of his power #’s because he played in an era when power was so prevalent.

      • paperlions - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        He wouldn’t be one of the better 2B not in the HOF. Lou Whittaker was better. Willie Randolph was better. Bobby Grich was a LOT better.

      • kirkvanhouten - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=860,1119,1009179,1011411

        Alomar was better, they were not identical.

        “he beats out Morgan and even Ryno”

        Okay, this the 2nd time you’ve brought up Joe Morgan. Do you realize how good Joe Morgan was? He’s that giant green line that is comically far above everyone else’s.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jan 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        Maybe he’s talking about another Morgan?

    • stex52 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      Agreed Hall of the Very Good. With a personality that makes us long for Barry Bonds.

    • cur68 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Wouldn’t be the worst infielder in the HoF; I’d probably say “Meh, why not? He was pretty good.”

  7. Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    While I do think Kent is a Hall of Famer (not first ballot though), the article by the SFGate writer just seems like he’s trying to boost Kent’s “borderline” HOF status (as I’m sure the author is a San Fran homer and Kent fan)…I hardly heard anything about Kent, but I did hear about Frank Thomas.

    • chromedog - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      Is it just me or anyone believe the “not first ballot tho” is just BS. If you are HOF worthy,..vote him in,…don’t make him 3rd , 4th 10th ballot or whatever HOF member,….if he is wirthy in your opinion vote for him, no reason to wait,..

      • Rich Stowe - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        I do agree with that however, I do believe the first ballot guys should be reserved for the no-doubt HOFers…

        if I had my way, everyone who is a HOFer would get in on the first ballot, but that’s not how it works

  8. dcarroll73 - Jan 16, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Does ANYONE believe that Kent’s “outspoken” opposition to steroids had any more basis than his unbearable jealousy of Barry Bonds? This damn poser tried to be a “team leader” by ragging on a young player for an error, and Barry Bonds stepped in and told him off (yes, that same Bonds who was supposedly such a terrible teammate.) That was the cause of the famous dugout fight between them (personally I don’t like Kent’s odds if nobody had been there to intervene.) Kent = Hall of Shame (not HOF.) I will add that I have been a fan of the Giants (both in NY and SF) for my 61 years.

    • cshearing - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      Any potential bonus points Kent would get for decrying the use of steroids would be more than offset by the negative points his asshole nature will bring.

      Guy was a great ballplayer, but I still had no regret that the Jays traded him away. He was hard to root for.

      • stex52 - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        I felt the same way when he was an Astro. A thorough jerk and a lazy fielder.

  9. lew24 - Jan 16, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Rafael Palmeiro was also outspoken against PEDs!

    It’s easy to be outspoken when you know nothing is going to happen!

  10. bayarea510 - Jan 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

    Food for thought…..would Jeff Kent even have the type of numbers he had without batting behind Barry Bonds for all those years?

  11. snowbirdgothic - Jan 16, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    The fact that these pieces of samsonite are ready to lionize Jeff “I Was Washing My Truck” Kent as a paragon of virtue is just one more piece of evidence as to how thoroughly the Hall of Fame voting process has gone completely Lemmiwinks.

  12. nicosamuelson2 - Jan 18, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Maybe if he’d won Survivor.

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