Hall Of Fame Debate: PICK ONE: Ryne Sandberg OR Jeff Kent
For the first time, Jeff Kent will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014. And while we still have more than eight months to wait to see who ultimately is elected among the new/repeat players in that group, this week we will focus on the career of Jeff Kent.
And as I like to do, I will compare Kent to a player that I feel he matches up well against. This time around, that player is former Cubs’ second baseman and Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg.
Like Sandberg, Kent was tops among second baseman during his playing days, so this should be a fun comparison.
Let’s get right down to it. Here is a side-by-side:
|40+ HR seasons||0||1|
|30-39 HR seasons||3||1|
|30 HR / 100 RBI seasons||3||1|
|World Series appearances||1||0|
|World Series wins||0||0|
When looking at these numbers, there are quite a few similarities in their career totals. And there are some drastic differences too.
Sandberg was a more accomplished base stealer, defender, and appears to have been a more popular player based on his 10 All-Star Game selections.
Kent was the greater slugger and run producer of the duo – easily out-distancing himself from Sandberg in home runs and run production. Kent also appeared in the playoffs seven times compared to Sandberg’s two times.
So, that takes me to this week’s ‘Hall of Fame Debate’, and it is two-fold – (1)If you had to choose the better player based on his career accomplishments, who would you choose? (2) Is Jeff Kent worthy of Hall of Fame induction?
For me, when comparing the two, I can go back and forth quite a bit. While their on-base and hitting numbers are eerily similar, there are major parts of their offensive game that are not. Sandberg was much faster on the base paths than Kent, easily outpacing Kent’s career stolen bases by a ratio of more than 5:1. The same could be said for Kent’s power production – his doubles, home run, and run production is much stronger than what Sandberg offered. This could have a lot to do with where the player spent his prime years in the batting order on his team, but with the numbers so far apart, it is clear that Kent was more of a threat to drive the ball and knock in runs than Sandberg.
After careful, and exhaustive review, I believe that the better all-around player was Ryne Sandberg. His base stealing and defense separate him from Kent, and those two parts of the game are simply impossible to ignore. If I wanted one player at the plate with a man on second in a tied game, I would select Kent every time, but as far as what the player provided to his team, Sandberg was simply able to offer more due to his base running ability and defensive skills.
And now onto the conversation about Kent’s Hall of Fame future…
When I think about the greatest second baseman of the last 40 years, Jeff Kent’s name certainly creeps into the conversation. And to be honest – there are not that many standout players for that position. I believe that they all take a back seat to Joe Morgan, but after that you can say that Sandberg or Roberto Alomar or Jeff Kent is next. And at some point in the near future, the name of Robinson Cano may be part of that conversation too.
Ultimately, I think that Jeff Kent will gain Hall of Fame induction, and I am on board with that. He had a very solid 17-season career that included 7 playoff appearances. He took certain aspects of offense to another level that no other second baseman has, and that should be recognized.
While not someone who I would select on his ‘First Ballot’, I endorse Jeff Kent for Hall of Fame induction!!!
What do you think? Who is the more accomplished player – Jeff Kent OR Ryne Sandberg? And while you’re at it, tell me if you feel that Jeff Kent is worthy of Hall of Fame induction.
Thanks for reading. Have a great night!!