With all the talk about whether Barry Bonds will be voted into the Hall of Fame eventually, it’s easy to overlook that Jeff Kent, who is at worst a borderline Hall of Famer, is also still on the ballot. MLB.com ran an article about his chances, and while its main purpose was to interview him about why he’s not getting more love from the voters, it also annoyed Keith Law, which is always a fun bonus:
(In the interview, he said, “I loved the game. I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. I played it with honor, respect and I played it the right way.” It was a plea for votes and seemed to me to clearly be about steroids, but it was also not the main purpose of the article and would have been completely overlooked if not for the title. I also certainly did not overreact to the title and write like 200 words about it before actually reading the article, ha ha, no way, that would be very irresponsible and dumb.)
Kent isn’t going to be voted into the Hall anytime soon. In Ryan Thibodaux’s HoF tracker, he’s only at 13.3% of the vote on revealed ballots this year, while last year he was at 18.1% and the two prior years he was around 14%. The MLB.com article lists two possible reasons Kent’s vote total is so low: he was unfriendly to the media and his defense was regarded as not great.
To me, neither of those is the real reason. The real reason is that at no point in his four years on the ballot has Jeff Kent been one of the 10 best players on the ballot, and that’s even if you remove Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Sosa because you’re a hypothetical steroid purist. He came close last year, but that’s only if you think he was better than both Larry Walker and Jim Edmonds, which to me is iffy. He’s close this year too, as long as you ignore all closers and assume he was better than Vladimir Guerrero and Fred McGriff. The ballot’s just too crowded for large numbers of people to justify voting for Kent.
Will Jeff Kent ever make it into the Hall of Fame? Well, he’s definitely been shut out of the truck washing Hall of Fame! (PAUSE FOR LAUGHTER) But no, he’s not going to be in baseball’s Hall either, at least not until a Veterans Committee vote at least a decade from now. He’s probably going to end up at around 14% of the vote again this year, and with six years to go on the ballot, it doesn’t look good for him.
Jeff Kent spent six excellent years with the Giants, had several other excellent years with the Astros and Dodgers, and is baseball’s all time leader in home runs hit by a second baseman. The fact that that’s not close to enough for him to get voted in by the BBWAA just shows how tough it is to make it.