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Is Jeff Kent a Hall-of-Famer?

Just got word from the Dodgers that veteran second baseman Jeff Kent plans on announcing his retirement tomorrow at a news conference at Dodger Stadium. This has been an extremely harsh winter for older free agents -- right, Mr. Griffey? -- and Kent has now taken the path chosen a year ago by Mike Piazza. By the time the winter is over, you might see a few more big-name players (Frank Thomas? Pudge Rodriguez?) joining that fraternity of possible Hall-of-Fame retirees.

Without doing a whole lot of number-crunching here, I'm inclined to say Kent is deserving of election to Cooperstown in five years. He was certainly one of the dominant second basemen of his era, along with Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio. And his candidacy will be largely defined by the fact he holds the all-time record for homers by a second baseman, with 351, or 74 more than Ryne Sandberg.

What's your take on Kent: yea or nay?

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 21, 2009; 1:29 PM ET
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As much of a prick people said he was, he's a Hall of Famer. The guy continued Sandberg's transition of second basemen to power hitters. His stretch of dominance spanned about 10 years, which is more than enough to win over voters.

One thing I do believe is that he won't be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I just don't think enough voters would want to give him that "honor", which is a ridiculous thought process.

Posted by: adampschroeder | January 21, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

You didn't ask the most important question: Did baseball writers like him? Was he their buddy? Was he available all hours for quotes? Seems to be the most important criteria.

Posted by: driggs1 | January 21, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Probably not liked by writers due to 'Roid Rage when him and Barry would have their needle swapping parties.

He did go from a 20-21 HR guy with the Mets to a 30-37 HR guy with the Giants. If McGuire gets a no-go due to 'roids, ditto for Kent.

Posted by: VladiHondo | January 21, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Kent was never put in the McGwire, Barry Bonds class. His power peaked in his late 20's, which is when most guys see it come.

I think Kent will squeeze out enough votes in his 4th or 5th year of eligibility.

Posted by: adampschroeder | January 21, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The likability thing may have at least some validity. Players have an impact on a team beyond their numbers. Sure some have hitting stats that overwhelm every other consideration.

Barry Bonds is and was never much liked by sports writers or most other people, but until he got outed as a 'roid cheater, he was a guy you would put on your team any chance you got.

Kent certainly stood out among second basemen, but was he the kind of must have player whose talents so outweighed his personality deficits as to make a GM trade for him or spend serious FA dollars?

I think his personality raises enough questions that Adam's guess is right, Kent waits 4 or 5 ballots, then sneaks in.

Posted by: advocate2 | January 22, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

My initial reaction was that he's a borderline case, but on further review, I think you have to put him in. My litmus test for a HOF'er is ten dominant seasons, and this guy played 14 years with seasonal averages (based on 162 games, so slightly inflated) are .290/.356/.500, with 27 dingers and 107 ribbies. He wasn't an elite fielder like Sandberg, but he made up for it with his bat.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 22, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

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