The Hall of Fame ballots are slowly coming and one power-hitting SF Giants second baseman is gaining positive momentum. Jeff Kent is in his final year on the ballot and he gaining a lot of votes in the early going.
Power-hitting second baseman getting strong push in final year on HOF ballot
Ryan Thibodaux does a tremendous job counting and recording the public ballots as a way to gauge how each player is performing. And, Kent is tied with longtime Atlanta Braves outfielder Andruw Jones for the most votes gained based on Thibodaux's most recent update:
This is likely a function of several factors including that fact that Kent is in his final year on the ballot. In their final year, players tend to get an extra push and sometimes it is just enough in the case of Larry Walker and Edgar Martínez.
Another factor is that the Hall of Fame ballot is light on slam-dunk candidates at the moment. Holdovers from previous years like Kent, Todd Helton, and Scott Rolen continue to build positive momentum. On the other hand, Carlos Beltrán has the strongest case among the new entrants on the ballot.
Unfortunately, the final push will not be enough for Kent. He has never received more than 32.7 percent of the votes in any of his first nine chances on the ballot. He will likely see a sizable bump, but it will be well short of the 75 percent needed for induction. That said, the positive momentum could add to his case when he is eventually voted on by the veterans committee.
Kent had a tremendous six-year run with the Giants where he blasted 175 home runs with 689 RBI while hitting in the middle of the lineup along with Barry Bonds. Prior to joining the Giants, the right-handed bat had been a solid offensive producer, but he became an MVP candidate as soon as he put on a Giants uniform. In fact, he took home the award in 2000 as he slashed .334/.424/.596 (162 OPS+) with 33 home runs, 125 RBI, and 114 runs in 695 plate appearances.
Kent departed San Francisco via free agenncy after the 2002 season, spending the next two seasons with the Houston Astros and the final four years of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played for the Toronto Blue Jays (1992), New York Mets (1992-1996), and Cleveland Guardians (1996) as well.
There are not many second basemen in baseball history who put up the offensive numbers that Kent produced. Kent's 377 career home runs remains the most at his position.