Thursday January 26, 2023

Rolen Elected to HOF, Kent Fans Cry Foul

My sister and I at the Baseball Hall of Fame  in 1973—my one trip there! It was the year they inducted Warren Spahn and (by special ballot) Roberto Clemente, while ignoring Whitey Ford, Johnny Mize, Robin Roberts, Duke Snider and Ralph Kiner, among others. 

Joe Posnanski has a good piece on the social-media backlash against Jeff Kent falling off the ballot after 10 years. Here are the arguments he's seen in favor of the former Giants second baseman. Kent was...

  • ...the greatest power-hitting second baseman ever
  • ...the greatest offensive second baseman of all time
  • ...only dissed because he was not nice to the press
  • ...being unfairly compared to players of previous generations (Kent's own argument)

To which Poz basically goes: 1) sorry, 2) not at all, 3) nope, and 4) isn't that the point? In fact, isn't the main argument Kent supporters make—that he hit more homers than any second baseman—comparing him to previous generations? All of those homers, though, do not mean Kent was the greatest power-hitting second baseman ever, Poz adds, and certainly not the greatest offensive force at second ever. In that, Kent takes a bit of a backseat to guys like Hornsby, Joe Morgan, Eddie Collins, Jackie Robinson.

If you're going to make Jeff Kent's Hall of Fame case, just make it honestly. I could give you an honest Jeff Kent case, one that points to the fact that he hit 377 home runs, most for a second baseman (different from saying he was the greatest power-hitting second baseman) and he was incredibly consistent, and he was a key part of some fine teams, and he won an MVP award and had a few other seasons where he got MVP consideration, and in his prime with San Francisco, he probably was an average defensive second baseman, and he was a very good run producer for almost a full decade for three different teams.

But the majority of voters think that case falls short.

Good piece.

A few days ago, Poz ran down his HOF ballot, with no Kent on it, and his 1-10 choices. What struck me was how his 7-8-9 picks (Manny Ramirez, A-Rod and Gary Sheffield) were way more interesting, and fun, than his 1-2-3 choices (Scott Rolen, Todd Helton, Carlos Beltran). I mean, sure, vote those guys. But they don't exactly loom large like the others, do they? I'm missing looming. 

In case you missed it, only Rolen made the cut. “It'll either be nobody or Rolen” I wrote back in November, and that's what we got. There seems to be a more fun path somewhere, just not sure how we get on it. 

Posted at 01:10 PM on Thursday January 26, 2023 in category Baseball  
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