For six seasons, Jeff Kent followed Barry Bonds in the lineup for the SF Giants. He followed Bonds in a different way on Tuesday as he fell short of Hall of Fame induction, just one year after Bonds experienced the same fate.
SF Giants: Hall of Fame overlooks Jeff Kent in final year on ballot
Prior to 2023, Kent had never appeared on more than 32.7 percent of the ballots in his first nine years. In his final year, the power-hitting second baseman received a nice boost, appearing on 46.5 percent of the ballots in his tenth and final time on the ballot:
Third baseman Scott Rolen was the only player to receive the 75 percent needed for induction. He will be joined by Fred McGriff, who was elected by the Veteran's Committee, as the only two players being inducted in this year's Hall of Fame class.
Carlos Beltrán, who appeared briefly with the Giants in 2011, received 46.5 percent of the votes in his first year on the ballot. That is a promising showing and likely means that he will be elected in the next couple of seasons. On the other hand, Matt Cain did not receive a vote and fell off of the ballot in his first year.
I grew up as a fan of Kent, so it is disappointing to see that he did not receive the recognition he deserves. The way he played the game reminds me of Buster Posey in that he had that quiet demeanor where the moment was never too big. He experienced a lot of success on the baseball field, but he expected that from himself.
Some voters tend to use that old age of, "Can you tell the story of baseball without Player X." I realize that Kent's Hall of Fame case has always been borderline, but should it be? Can you really tell the story of the history of second base without mentioning Kent at all?
Second base is a really odd position with respect to the Hall of Fame. Only 20 second basemen have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Many of them were pre-integration players. Not to take anything away from any of those players, but did they ever have to face Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, or Pedro Martínez?
Over the last 75 years, Kent is one of the best offensive players at his position. That point is undeniable. Perhaps, Joe Morgan is the only second baseman in that timespan to definitively be a better offensive performer than Kent.
Kent is clearly the superior offensive player compared to some recent inductees like Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, or Craig Biggio. However, his defense was never well-regarded back then and the defensive metrics that have come out since then support that claim. That is the one thing that has held him back with Hall of Fame voting.
Similar to McGriff this year, Kent has a chance to be elected by the Veteran's Committee in a couple of years. That committee has had a looser definition of what it means to be a Hall of Famer than the voters, so Kent still has a chance. For now, he will have to wait.