The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday night that Scott Rolen is the only member of this winter’s ballot to earn induction into Cooperstown by virtue of appearing on more than 75 percent of the ballots cast by Baseball Writers Association of America. While Rolen had reason to celebrate, others had reason to be disappointed, including Jeff Kent, who came up short in his 10th (and final) year on the BWAA ballot.
Kent, of course, appeared in parts of 17 major league seasons, mostly as a second baseman. He made five All-Star Games and earned four Silver Slugger Awards. He also won the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 2000. Kent amassed a 123 OPS+ for his career, along with 377 home runs and 55.4 Wins Above Replacement. However, he appeared on less than 47 percent of ballots this year, clearing the 35 percent threshold for the first time.
Kent offered to explain why he fell well short of induction, blaming “a few stat people without a vote.”
“The voting over the years has been a shame,” Kent said in a text to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Baseball is losing a few generations of great players who were the best of their era because a few no-vote stats keep comparing those players to players already voted in from past generations and that influence the votes. It’s unfair to the best players of their era and those who have already voted, in my opinion.”
Our very own Matt Snyder happens to be one of those people who uses statistics and precedent to analyze the Hall of Fame. He noted that Kent’s offensive production gave him strong “Hall of Famer” appeal, but also cautioned that Kent’s potential induction would likely come via a committee vote because of how his below-average defense dragged down his total-value metrics. .
To block Snyder:
Kent ranks 19th in WAR among second basemen, well below the current Hall of Famer average and in the ballpark of Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia and Tony Phillips. In JAWS, he is 21st and actually trails Pedroia and Kinsler. He’s not too far ahead of Ben Zobrist. All very good players, to be clear, but this is not the company to keep a surefire Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for Kent, the Age of Contemporary Beards committee met last winter, when they chose to induct Fred McGriff. They won’t meet and vote again until the winter of 2025. That means Kent could go to Cooperstown after all, but he won’t be able to give his speech until 2026.