Hall Of Fame Debate: Assessing Jeff Kent’s Vote Tally From His First Ballot
After analyzing the complete 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame voting results, it was Mike Mussina’s name that I was most shocked by with the final number of votes received. Right behind Mussina, was Jeff Kent.
While never a superstar or household name, Jeff Kent was often regarded as ‘the best offensive player at his position’. His stretch from 1997-2005 was superb.
On his first ballot, Kent received just 87 votes earning him 15.2% of the required 75% needed for election to Cooperstown.
So, where does Jeff Kent go from here? Can he make up the vast ground that separates him and the needed votes to be elected?
Kent is the all-time leader in home runs hit for a second baseman with 377 career round-trippers. When compared to all other second baseman in the Hall of Fame, Kent ranks in third place with 1,518 RBI behind Nap Lajoe and Rogers Hornsby. His lifetime batting average of .290 is five points higher than that of Ryne Sandberg and nineteen points higher than Joe Morgan.
Kent was a 5-time All-Star and a 4-time Silver Slugger winner. He was a league MVP in 2000 and had three other ‘Top 9′ seasons for the award.
What I think the biggest argument about Kent’s career is when his numbers soared. He took his game to another level when he joined the Giants in 1997. It may be coincidental that his performance accelerated when he started hitting in a lineup that featured Barry Bonds. Maybe it was Bonds’ presence that allowed for Kent to do what he did in San Fran as he did not achieve the same output while with the Mets or Indians in prior years.
Nonetheless, Jeff Kent has a huge mountain to climb in order to get to the Hall of Fame. By comparison, Andre Dawson received 45% of the vote on his first ballot in 2002 and Jim Rice got 29.8% of the vote in 1995. It took both of these guys a pretty long time to gain enshrinement – and each of them started with a lot more votes than what Kent got in round one.
What do you think? Can Jeff Kent take on this uphill battle and emerge victorious? If so, how long will it take for him to reach 75%?
Let me hear it!