I was never a big Jeff Kent fan, but even I can see that the man is clearly qualified for the Hall of Fame. That said, I suppose there are reasonable, if ultimately unpersuasive arguments against Kent’s candidacy. The New York Daily News’ Bill Price, however, doesn’t make one of those:
But I say Kent cannot be looked at as a second baseman, especially in this day and age where middle infielders all over baseball are putting up numbers usually posted by outfielders and third baseman. We have to start judging players – other than catchers – as all part of the same pool. Is Nomar Garciaparra a Hall of Famer because he put up big numbers at shortstop?
Kent was never a great fielder. He had to hide somewhere and most teams chose to put him at second base. Also, Kent played in the steroids era, so all of the numbers from that time have to be judged on some sort of scale. 600 homers may have to be the new 500 homers.
And while Kent’s numbers may have gotten him into the Hall of Fame 10 years ago, they are comparable to several other players who will be retiring soon or have already retired and likely won’t ever get in.
Albert Belle has more homers (381) than Kent. Is he a Hall of Famer? Gary Sheffield has more homers (499), hits (2,615) and RBIs (1,633) than Kent. Is he a Hall of Famer? Andres Gallarraga (399), Dale Murphy (398), Joe Carter (396), Jason Giambi (396), Vlad Guerrero (392), Craig Nettles (390), Dwight Evans (385), Harold Baines (384), Larry Walker (383) and Matt Williams (378) all have more homers than Kent. Only Guerrero has a legit shot to make it to Cooperstown.
I guess if defensive position doesn’t matter, we can expect a wonderful “Derek Jeter isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame” column from Price sometime in the next few years, right? And what of Mariano Rivera? How can we elect a man won’t have even 80 wins by the time his career is over!
(link via BTF, where Price is taking a beating and a half)