The Hall of Left Fielders

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)

Print Friendly
 Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
« Previous: Things are tough all over
Next: The Rangers are the tops »


  1. TLA said...

    If Jim Rice is in, I’d say pretty much everyone else on that list at the end has a strong candidacy.

    And Sheffield is a lock.

  2. eric said...

    is the power surge he’s talking about really that huge…

    i mean just sitting here.. real quick i can think of Utley, Uggla… umm Kinsler and Brandon Phillips.. that’s 4 out of 30 teams. and i really had to think about phillips.

    is there more real, legitimate power threats at 2B? pedroia?

    bad, dumb argument.

  3. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    What’s pretty darn interesting/neat is that we have THREE quality HOF candidates all coming up in the next few years: Alomar, Biggio and Kent.

    And Kent’s going to get in due to his power, despite his mediocre glovesmanship and his sparkling demeanor.

  4. MooseinOhio said...

    This is my read from his words – Price has flaws in argument or he has information about Kent and PEDs that no one else has. 

    His statement “especially in this day and age where middle infielders all over baseball are putting up numbers usually posted by outfielders and third baseman” recognizes the offensive production of Kent.  Kent’s output is historically atypical for middle infielders and he is clearly leading the pack for offensive output by second basemen. 

    In his next paragraph he states “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”.  In my opinion, only players suspected of using PEDs (e.g. Bonds, McGuire,) have to judged in such a manner while players who are perceived to have never used PEDs (e.g. Ripken, Griffey) should be seen in a positive light. 

    Flaw #1 – All players who put up atypical numbers during the steroids era need to be viewed as suspect because atypical numbers are an indicator of cheating not greatness.  With that logic – Greg Maddux and Tony Gwynn need to be vetted as deeply as Clemens and Bonds.  Following his logic – every player is suspect and greatness needs to be questioned because skill and talent have been diminished during the steroids era. 

    Flaw #2 – Hitters benefitted from the steroids era and pitchers suffered.  However tests results indicate that pitchers are getting busted for PEDs at a slightly higher rate than everyday players (this appears to be true at both minor league and major league level).  If both pitcher and everyday players are using PEDs equally then the effect of the PEDs should be distributed equally yet Price only focuses his light on the benefit hitters may have received (i.e. reduce 600 HRs to 500 HRs).  If a hitter never used PEDs but played against pitchers who did – shouldn’t the hitters numbers be viewed in a more positive light?

    Flaw #3 – Defense matters to the Hall of Fame.  I love baseball but it’s focus on the historic nature of statistics puts too much emphasis on a player’s offensive production for consideration.  The development and use of defensive statistics clearly lags behind offensive statistics and players who impacted the game primarily in a defensive manner do not get the same consideration as a peer that effected the game in a primarily offensive manner.

    Flaw #4 (Kent and PEDs) – If you are going to devalue a player’s numbers from 600 to 500 because they played during the steroids era then you either believed they used steroids or have proof they used steroids – otherwise you would not devalue their numbers.  In my read of his article, Price is devaluing Kent’s numbers but will not directly call him out as a cheat or potential cheat and until he is willing to do so – let his numbers stand as they are.

  5. The Common Man said...

    “But I say Kent cannot be looked at as a second baseman”

    He also can’t be looked at as a baseball player, motorcycle enthusiast, mustache-afficionado, carbon-based lifeform, human being, or any of the other things that Kent undeniably is.  Instead, let’s look at him as what he is not:  a leftfielder, a left-handed hitter, an Arabian prince, a dishwasher, an idea.  And clearly based on how he stacks up to what he is not, he’s not qualified to be in the Hall of Fame.  For Jeff Kent is a piss-poor dishwasher and a mediocre idea at best.

  6. Wooden_U_Lykteneau said...

    Sadly, Brad Ausmus and Jason Varitek will retire soon and because they were, at best, average offensively, their outstanding ability to call a game will be ignored. Meanwhile, polar opposites Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez will get in on the first ballot.

  7. thumble said...

    “Kent was never a great fielder. He had to hide somewhere and most teams chose to put him at second base.”

    Because that’s where you hide bad fielders, not 40 feet to their left at 1B.

    It will be interesting to see him dance around this arguement when it’s Jeter’s turn. “They had to hide him somewhere and the Yankees chose to put him at shortstop.”

  8. Ron said...

    If playing the middle infield is so easy, and Kent doesn’t get credit for surviving, even as an average defender, then why did Aaron and Mantle move from 2B and SS respectively?

    Why weren’t they just left there to hit?

    Why was Ernie Banks moved to 1B when he was racking up impressive homerun totals as a SS?

    For that matter, Jackie Robinson’s career numbers don’t match up with that of other players of his area, and he was a secondbaseman. Anyone wanna pick that booger?

  9. Dan Greer said...

    Kent’s a Hall of Famer.
    Guerrero’s a Hall of Famer.
    Sheffield won’t be because of steroids.
    Walker should be a Hall of Famer, but I’ll bet he gets Tim Raines’ lackluster level of support.

  10. Mark R said...

    Enough has probably been said already, but none of it by me. So…since when do you “hide” people at second base? And what the hell does the Nomar thing have to do with anything? Isn’t it pretty elementary that you put players at the toughest position they can handle, to maximize their value (unless their last name is Pujols)?

    Here’s where I come down on the rest: Sheffield is one of the top 15-20 right-handed hitters of all time. He’s in. Vlad needs to be a productive for a couple more years, but I’d probably vote for him regardless. Dwight Evans should be in. Everybody else: out. I really want Larry Walker to be Hall-worthy, but he doesn’t stack up.

  11. VanderBirch said...

    Just because you use the term ‘polar opposites’ doesn’t provide any evidence for your point.

    In Ausmus’ case, game calling better have been worth a #### load of runs, because his rotting corpse has been holding back the Astros line-up for years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>