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POLL: Jeff Kent and the Hall of Fame

Posted by Andy on August 10, 2010

Next up in our debate is Jeff Kent, as per orders from the boss.

Kent was one of the best second-basemen of all time, in terms of offensive production. He also played in a high-run scoring era, so we'll need to determine how much that helped his raw numbers.

He was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and he won the 2000 NL MVP. He also benefited from batting behind Barry Bonds for most of his years in San Francisco.

Kent didn't start hitting really well until about age 30 and was considered a top prospect for a long time, even while in the majors. Evidence to this fact includes the list of players he was involved in trades for: David Cone, Carlos Baerga, and Matt Williams.

Click through to read more about Kent's career and vote in the poll.

Let's get right to it.

For Jeff Kent in the Hall of Fame:

  • All-time, Kent is in the top 10 for OPS+ for 2nd baseman (minimum 1000 career games):
    Rk Player OPS+ G From To Age PA R HR RBI BA OPS Tm
    1 Rogers Hornsby 175 2259 1915 1937 19-41 9475 1579 301 1584 .358 1.010 STL-NYG-BSN-CHC-TOT-SLB
    2 Nap Lajoie 150 2480 1896 1916 21-41 10460 1504 82 1599 .338 .846 PHI-PHA-TOT-CLE
    3 Eddie Collins 141 2826 1906 1930 19-43 12037 1821 47 1300 .333 .853 PHA-CHW
    4 Joe Morgan 132 2649 1963 1984 19-40 11329 1650 268 1133 .271 .819 HOU-CIN-SFG-PHI-OAK
    5 Jackie Robinson 132 1382 1947 1956 28-37 5802 947 137 734 .311 .883 BRO
    6 Larry Doyle 126 1766 1907 1920 20-33 7382 960 74 793 .290 .765 NYG-TOT-CHC
    7 Bobby Grich 125 2008 1970 1986 21-37 8220 1033 224 864 .266 .794 BAL-CAL
    8 Charlie Gehringer 124 2323 1924 1942 21-39 10237 1774 184 1427 .320 .884 DET
    9 Danny Murphy 124 1496 1900 1915 23-38 5978 705 44 702 .289 .742 NYG-PHA-BTT
    10 Jeff Kent 123 2298 1992 2008 24-40 9537 1320 377 1518 .290 .855 TOT-NYM-SFG-HOU-LAD
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 8/9/2010.
  • Notice a few names NOT on the list above: Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Lou Whitaker, Craig Biggio, and Alfonso Soriano.
  • Jeff Kent is 111th all-time in WAR with 59.6, but 14th among 2nd basemen. For batting runs only, he's 6th all-time among 2nd basemen.
  • From 1998 to 2002, Kent experienced a great peak with the 22nd-best OPS+ in baseball (142) and highest among all major-league 2nd basemen.
  • Kent had 4 top-10 MVP finishes (and one win) despite playing his peak in the large shadow cast by Barry Bonds.
  • He hit well in numerous playoff appearances, including 3 HR and 7 RBI in two different series (2002 WS and 2004 NLCS) including one memorable walk-off homer (pictured above.)

The bottom line, no matter how you look at it, is that Kent was one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball history and was, for a time, the very best playing the game.

Against Jeff Kent in the Hall of Fame:

  • Despite his good rankings among 2nd basemen, Kent's overall career ranks are not particular impressive: WAR (111th), WPA (145th),hits (101st), runs (112th), his only top 50 finished are RBI (48th) and doubles (22nd).
  • Kent's peak came when Barry Bonds was hitting ahead of him, getting on base a ton. I don't have the numbers, but I would have to think that Kent hit with runners on a lot more than many other players. That means he saw better pitches and had more RBI opportunities. Here's one quick look: Kent had 4,819 of his 9,537 PAs with runners on. That's 50.5%. Chase Utley, part of a powerful lineup and today's equivalent to Kent, has a percentage of just 46.9%. Imagine how much lower it is for 2Bs not hitting in the middle of the order.
  • He was nothing special as a fielder (near 0 career fielding runs.)
  • He never won a World Series and tanked in a couple of series (2008 NLCS and 1996 ALDS, although it's hard to argue against the rest of his playoff record.)


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 at 7:30 am and is filed under Hall of Fame, Polls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

122 Responses to “POLL: Jeff Kent and the Hall of Fame”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Justin, Kent did not bad behind Bonds when he had a .529 OBP; he was in Houston.

    And when Bonds had a .582 OBP, he batted behind Kent as often as not.

    So there is one season, 2001, when Bonds had an OBP over .500 and Kent should have had 374 RBI because he followed him in the lineup. He only managed 106. Of course, 73 times Bonds cleared himself and everyone else off the bases before Kent had a chance. Kent did have 208 PA with RISP and did not hit that well, .268 BA and .482 SLG. For his career he batted .300 and slugged over .500 with RISP.

  2. Oops. Forgot Biggio. My error. The inclusion of Biggio does change the Keltner Test results on some questions, but my conclusion is the same. At some point Kent will be the best player to select from and someone will be selected.

    Also, the more I look at my statement about the majority of players in 5 AS games and above in the HOF the more doubts I have about the statement. I will just say, I don't know the answer as to whether the majority of players with 5 or more AS selections are in the HOF who are eligible.

  3. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Justin@99: "Once Bonds has gotten on base (and heaven forbid if one of the Giants' top 2 hitters got on base), pitchers essentially had no choice but to throw Kent strikes."

    Proof by vigorous assertion?

    I'm asking you to explain *why* a pitcher would feel forced to throw strikes. Because walking Kent would be so much worse than with somebody other than Barry, or nobody on base?

    Do hitters generally hit better with a runner on first than in other situations? I'm looking for either a strategic argument for why you would pitch tighter or some data on hitter's/pitcher's numbers to back up this assertion that with a man on base you will get more hittable pitches. Perhaps I'm missing something -- I came late to baseball both as a fan and as a casual softball player, but I don't see any good reason why a pitcher would be any more "forced to throw strikes" with Barry on first or second, than in most other situations.

    Also, the amount of times Barry Bonds was on base over and above an average NL player was very high in terms of what you could ever expect a player to do, but that doesn't translate into as big a percentage of PA's for Kent with Bonds on as you might think. Let's do the calculation.

    BB's OBP over the years Kent played behind him was .472 over 3704 PAs. Let's assume Kent batted behind Barry every time and for the exact same number of PAs (this will somewhat overstate the effect of batting behind Bonds). Bonds also hit 279 HRs over that span, so he ends up on base for Kent in 1469 of 3704 PAs. An average NL player over that span was on base .336 of the time and hit about 100 HRs, leaving him on base 1144 times. So Bonds was on base for Kent 324 more times than an average NL player (not an average NL #3 hitter, mind you -- an average NL batter, which would include pitchers and a bunch of other guys who would never be in the #3 spot. 324 times in 3704 PA's means that Bonds was on base for Kent about 9% more often than some random average guy would have been in his place. That's a significant number, but the point is, whatever effect you are suggesting happened because he was batting behind Barry Bonds, happened at most about 9% of the time (more likely much less, as #3 hitters would normally have .350+ OBP.

  4. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Going back to Rivera, here's something amazing. I don't really remember when people started noticing and talking about him as one of the great postseason pitchers ever. He had that scoreless innings streak from '98 into '00, so I guess it was in around '99 or '00. Through 2000, he had 63 postseason IP with a 0.71 ERA, 0.794 WHIP, .463 OPS against. At that point he had pitched in the 2nd most postseason games ever, and was 37th in IP. Surely no reasonable projection would expect him to continue on such a pace. From 2001 through 2009, he pitched another 70.1 IP with a 0.77 ERA, 0.754 WHIP, .429 OPS! (He has lost a game and blown 4 saves in the latter period, after losing none and blowing 1 save in the former.) He is easily the all-time leader in games, and is 8th in IP, behind only HOF and near-HOF starters.

  5. Rainbow 99,

    that's a pretty good list. Here's a couple of points:

    #1) I can't say he was regarded as the best player in baseball just because he won the N.L. MVP. I think there was a wide consensus that A-Rod was the best player in baseball in 2000. And some people thought his teammate Bonds should have won the 2000 MVP. Andruw Jones was also touted as one of the best players in baseball. And it's hard to remember now but Jason Giambi was also viewed as one of the best in the game and won the A.L. MVP.

    #3) There was kind of a drought of great second basemen during the early part of the 2000's, I guess Soriano would be Kent's main competitor. But Kent was clearly the best 2b during the early to mid part of the decade. I would even say that he was the best 2b in baseball from 1998-2007. He has a rather large lead in WAR by a secondbasemen during this time period.

    #6) There's probably 10-15 eligible position players better than Kent not in the HOF, plus about 10-15 pitchers that were better than Kent not in the HOF so I can't foresee a time where Kent would be the best eligible player not in the HOF, considering some aren't even on the ballot anymore (Whitaker, Wynn, R. Smith, K. Hernandez, Bando, Bell, Nettles, Dw. Evans) to name a few.

    #7) That all depends what stats you use. Probably every 2b with similar traditional stats is in the HOF, not so when you look at the saber stats.

    #9) Kent had a very late peak which is very odd. He basically went from having a 106ops+ up until he was 29, to having a 133ops+ from ages 30-39.

    #10) I can't foresee any time when Kent is the best eligible player not in the HOF.

    #11) you can say that both 2000 and 2002 were MVP caliber seasons.

    #12) There's a difference between going to an all star game and having an all star caliber season. For example in 2002 when he had a mvp caliber season he didn't go to the all star game. He didn't go to the all star game in '98, '97 when he had all star caliber seasons. All in all I'd say he had about 5 all star caliber seasons. You might include the 1994 strike season as an all star caliber season. He was about the 20th best player in the N.L. that season.

    #14) I think this is an overrated/arbitrary clause anyway. If they like you they look the other way if they don't like you the uphold this clause. Kent kind of came off as a aloof and kind of an a-hole but who knows what he was really like to his teammates.

    Although I don't think Kent is remotely the best eligible candidate, I can't see the logic of not voting for him based on that premise. I see him as a median HOF 2b, 15th-16th best 2b not including negro league players.

    I think the real problem is the BBWAA/veteran's has not expanded their selections of HOF's to go along with the expansion era in baseball. They've actually DECREASED the number of players getting elected which is bizarre when you consider that there are almost Double the amount of players as there were pre-1961. If you produced 8-10 HOF caliber players per 10 year period when there were only 16 teams, then logic would dictate that you would produce 14-20 HOF caliber players when there are 30 teams in the league.

  6. @#103 Michael Sullivan:

    I take your point. Though unless my math is off, Bonds being on base 1469 times for 3704 Kent PAs, vs. league average hitter being on base 1144 times is not a +9% difference, it is a +28% difference (324/1144).

    As to why pitchers would feel the need to throw strikes to Kent...I can't really point you to any documentation that would quantify that effect, but I'm pretty certain that it is there, based on my observational experience as a life-long baseball fan. Conventional wisdom holds that in ordinary circumstances, having two good hitters (or more) batting consecutively offers "protection" for some of the hitters in the batting order. Ordinarily, the player batting 3rd is protected by having a good hitter batting right after him, thus ensuring he'll get quality pitches to hit, as the defending team will be less inclined to put a man on base with the good hitter on deck.

    In the case of Bonds, who was drawing tons of intentional walks (as well as many of the "unintentional-intentional" variety), the managerial fear of his hitting was irrational and paranoid, in my opinion. Still, it is well documented that teams went to great lengths to avoid pitching to him. Having made that decision, it makes it far less likely that they are going to be willing to put Kent on base too. What manager intentionally walks back-to-back hitters unless there's two outs and he's setting up a force at every base? Or unless he's bringing up a Mario Mendoza-type hitter? But even a shoddy Mendoza-type hitter need only make decent contact to drive runs in with two guys on base; fortunately for Kent, it wasn't Mendoza batting fifth, but J.T. Snow and Ellis Burks (whose 163 OPS+ was even higher than Kent's in 2000, his MVP season).

    I'm not saying that this conventional wisdom makes any mathematical sense, or has any statistical validity, nor do I agree with it. However, baseball was, and still is, filled with lots and lots of stubborn, backwards thinking managers, coaches, and players who adhere to such things. No matter how much the stat-heads rail about wasting outs by bunting to advance runners, for example, it still happens. And so on.

  7. John Q wrote:

    "I think the real problem is the BBWAA/veteran's has not expanded their selections of HOF's to go along with the expansion era in baseball. They've actually DECREASED the number of players getting elected which is bizarre when you consider that there are almost Double the amount of players as there were pre-1961. If you produced 8-10 HOF caliber players per 10 year period when there were only 16 teams, then logic would dictate that you would produce 14-20 HOF caliber players when there are 30 teams in the league".

    This is a great point John Q --I think this is part of the reason why many are reluctant to vote some borderliners in today --they think it's too many players, and how could this guy or that guy be a HoFer. I'm not saying there should be double the number of HoF players today, but with double the number of teams there should be at least a few more, not less. It makes no sense for there to be less players voted in today. With that said, I don't think any players on your list above are HoFer's (maybe Bando and Evans should have gotten more play). We've already debated that 😉

    I also see some merit in the Keltner test. I haven't read a James book in a while, but was he ever completely advocating that the saberstats should replace every other way to evaluate a player? If I remember correctly, he was advocating for the saberstats to be another way, and perhaps a better way to evaluate players, but not the only way. If it was, why would he even bothered with Similarity scores, HOF monitor, HOF standards and the Keltner test. These things are obviously not arbitrary to most.

  8. I apologize in advance for responding to something 40 posts ago, but I haven't check this thread in a while...

    @61: I accept the fact that to be a great defensive 2B probably requires a certain physique that isn't conducive to being a home run hitter, but Kent wasn't a great defensive 2B, he was the very definition of average. That means he was just good enough that there wasn't a reason to move him somewhere else. Now if we are going to make the argument that he's a HoF because he's the best hitting 2B all time, we're also saying that anyone who could hit like he did while being an average fielding 2B should be in the Hall as well. That opens us up to a whole series of 'what-if' games.

    Take Matt Williams for example. Not as good of a hitter as Kent, but similar. Williams came up as a SS/3B who after a few seasons moved to 3B full time. Over his career he amassed an Rtot of 94, with an Rtot of 0 over limited time at SS. This made him a very good defender at his position, and it wouldn't be out of the question to think that Williams could have been an average defender at 2B (I know, I know, comparing 3B to 2B is apples to oranges, but Williams obviously possessed a certain amount of defensive "skills" and he proved himself to be an average SS, which most people would agree is a harder defensive position than 2B). Williams was on the ballot for the first time last year and got 1.3% of the vote. Now had Williams at some point in his career decided he wanted to play 2B, he'd be the all time HR leader at the position. Would he have received a bump because he was at 2B? Would he deserve one? Remember he'd be the exact same player, he'd just have a different position next to his name.

    This of course is just the best example I could find in about 10 minutes of thinking. It obviously has holes you could drive a truck through, but I needed to throw up something to describe my basic point; I'm sure there are guys out there who were just as good of hitters as Kent, who would be athletically capable of playing average 2B defense that have barely received a whiff of the HoF because they happened to play a different position. Why should Kent get in just because he was the one guy who said "you know what, I think I'll play second"?

  9. John Q,

    Thank you for the input. You make good points and clarifications. I'm glad we came to the same conclusion, but from a different fact set and rationale. Question, Kent will be eligible from 2014 - 2029. Would you say that it would be unlikely that at any point during those 15 years that Kent would not be the #1 or #2 best eligible player available? What about if we set aside players with reliably documented PED use? I understand it is difficult to look out that far.

    I also agree with you that the "best available player test" should not be the sole determining factor, but if he was the best available player (or even 2nd best) at some point between 2014 and 2029 that would surely be enough reason to get him, recognizing that someone will get in.

    Good point about the percentage of players being elected over time.

  10. Interesting and some good points #108. I can see where this different sort of mindset could cause someone like Kent to go from borderline in to borderline not in. Interesting point, especially since Kent was originally a 3B when he came up I believe. How does Kent compare with HoFer 3B? He perhaps would still be considered borderline in?

  11. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    If you want to keep player standards relative to peers the same, you don't go by how many major league players there are, but by the overall potential player pool -- how many kids were there 30 years prior playing organized baseball in countries where kids with talent and discipline can realistically get developed to the point of getting scouted by MLB for the minors/majors -- so basically US/Canada/Caribbean and to a lesser extent the far east. To the extent that player pool has expanded, the HoF will need to expand if it wants to keep the same relative standards. But if the player pool stays the same, adding teams to the majors doesn't require expansion of the hall (IMO). If anything, it dilutes the league average, making guys look better.

    One thing I can't get past looking at averages over history: They just elected too many guys from the 1920s and 1930s, and one reason is that the era was every bit as juiced as the steroid era in terms of the value of a run/hit/walk/etc., maybe more so. Of course Ruth and Gehrig and such are all time greats, but their numbers are every bit as inflated by various artefacts of their time as A-Rod or Bonds' are. The guys from that era who didn't put up monstrous numbers, aren't worthy, just like the same is true of the 1990s/2000s.

    One of the things I really love about saber numbers is that while they may never be perfect, they apply era corrections *consistently* instead of in the schizophrenic way our brains tend to, completely dismissing some numbers while remaining highly impressed with others.

    Mickey Mantle is a guy who is always mentioned as a great player, but seeing the list of OPS+ of hitters with at least 250 HR really stands him out in a way his raw numbers cannot. He doesn't have the massive career numbers of mays or aaron because he didn't play as long, but his OPS+ of 172 puts him just shy of Ruth/Bonds company as a peak performer. I'd never guess that from his raw numbers. And of course, Mays and Aaron's career numbers are all the more impressive when you consider that they spent 1/2 their career in the lesser deadball era.

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Now if we are going to make the argument that he's a HoF because he's the best hitting 2B all time, we're also saying that anyone who could hit like he did while being an average fielding 2B should be in the Hall as well.

    Well, yeah, probably.

    You're talking about Williams and Kent "deciding" to play 2B, as if this were intramural softball. They played for major league teams which chose to utilize Williams at third and Kent at second. If Kent's managers didn't want him playing 2B, he wouldn't, regardless how much he liked the idea. Whether Kent was a spectacular defender or not doesn't really matter. He was capable of playing the position until he was 40. Every team needs a 2Bman, and Kent was able to play it. David Ortiz has never in his life been capable of playing it. Maybe Matt Williams could have played it, but it's not likely. And if he had played it, he wouldn't have been the "exact same player" with a different position next to his name. He would have been at risk of injuries from guys trying to break up double plays. He probably couldn't have been as bulky as he was while maintaining the range required. Jose Uribe must be one of the worst players to be a regular for the same team for so many years. I'm sure the Giants would have loved to find a replacement. If they thought Williams could be a regular SS, Uribe wasn't going to stand in his way.

    I don't think it's been mentioned yet that of course Williams was traded for Kent, and at the time everyone thought it was a terrible trade for the Giants.

  13. The 2b/3b thing with Kent is kind of an interesting point. I would think he'd be a better fielder at third but his offensive wouldn't stand out as much so he would kind of even out to what his performance was at second.

    The same kind of thing happened to Edgardo Alfonzo. At second he was about average to good with the glove but terrific with the bat. At third, his defense tended to be better but his offense didn't stand out as much so it kind of evened out. But I think as Alfonzo aged he could no longer play second and his offense was below average for a 3b.

  14. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Djibouti@108: "Williams was on the ballot for the first time last year and got 1.3% of the vote. Now had Williams at some point in his career decided he wanted to play 2B, he'd be the all time HR leader at the position."

    This just points up how silly it is to look primarily at career totals of a single non-park-era adjusted stat. Kent was a *much* better hitter than Matt Williams, despite one fewer career HR. Williams had a below average OBP, which is why despite his Kent-equivalent HR rate, he produced only about a third of the Runs above average of Jeff Kent. Note the positional adjustment of 3B and 2B is very similar, so moving williams from 3B to 2B assuming he played 2B just as well as he played 3B would make only a tiny difference in his WAR of 45.3. If he played average, as Kent did, and got no fielding credit beyond the positional adjustment, he'd *lose* 8-9 WAR in the B-R calculation where TZ shows him as a well above average fielding 3B.

    Justin@106:

    The 9% represents the percent of PA's that Kent had, where whatever effect happens with a man on base happened for him, over and above what you'd expect had he been paired with an average hitter.

    Kent's OBP/OPS/OPS+/RC stats are based on *all* his plate appearances, not just those where somebody was on base. If you are looking at what having Barry batting in front did for his RBI opportunties, then your 28% number would be the one to use. Although realistically, a player on 1st is nowhere near the RBI opportunity of a player on second, and all those IBBs that Barry drew, put him on first.

    But I don't even consider RBI numbers generally, as they are obviously very strongly affected by how a player is used and who is ahead of him in the order.

    To take up something you said in 99 again, it's completely unreasonable to suggest that Kent "should have" had 170+ RBIs a season just because Bonds was batting in front of him. 28% more opportunities would translate into 28% more RBIs and anything over 100 is a high RBI season, the kind that a HoF caliber hitter batting 3rd or 4th would probably mostly have in their prime. So the RBIs you'd "expect" if this was really worth 28% more (which i highly doubt) is 130-150 for prime seasons batting behind Bonds, not 170+.

    There have only been a few 170+ RBI seasons in history (and none since the 1930s), despite many lineups where two or more HoF hitters are paired together in their prime.

    The highest RBI season in the last 30 years was Manny's 165 in 1999 while batting (cleanup? 3rd?) with a murderer's row in cleveland that included Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar, David Justice, Kenny Lofton and a rare above average bat season from Omar Vizquel. Team OPS+ was 110, almost as high as the 2001 SFG side, and higher than most of the SFG sides with Kent and Bonds together. It's hard to believe that Manny had significantly fewer opportunities for RBIs than Jeff Kent in his seasons with Bonds. And Manny is a *much* better hitter than Kent. If Manny had put up the same offensive numbers along with average defense at 2B instead of bottom of the barrel corner outfield play, we wouldn't need a poll about whether he belongs in the hall -- he'd be in the "best 2B of all time" conversation.

    For that matter, look at Barry Bonds's 2001, possibly the best hitting season in all of baseball history with his 73 homers, in the middle of a lineup that wasn't exactly shabby. He recorded 137 RBIs, more than half were just from scoring himself on home runs.

    There is no "should have" when it comes to RBIs.

  15. Mike Felber Says:

    I wonder if positional adjustments should be staggered, so that guys get progressively more credit for better fielding. Is a league average defense middle infielder really all that hard to find? Catcher you can make a better case for, but if not that theoretically hard to be a mediocre SS or 2B or even 3B or CF, what about giving more credit for really good defense instead?

  16. Michael Sullivan@#114:

    Thank you for correcting my math. :)

    As to any "should-have" notions of RBI production, I think you're right on the narrow point. The RBI opportunities of any given player are really out of his control, and generally correlate to how many RBI he'll actually have. This is why RBI are always a questionable measure of the quality of a player. This is why Jeff Kent's 1500 RBI are, to me, just not a convincing argument for his HoF credentials. His 377 HR aren't that persuasive either, in context--he's an exemplar of the era in which he played, in which everyone all along the batting orders of most teams simply swung for the fences, and the fences of the 1990s/2000s were in smaller ballparks than ever.

    Kent was a good hitter in context, but not a great hitter, a mediocre glove, a terrible percentage player, and fortunate in his choice of teammates (by whom, it should be noted, he was not well-liked). From this it does not follow that he is a Hall of Famer.

  17. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Well I get the sense that credit is given for defense. while I don't think anybody is fully satisfied with the accuracy of TZ or UZR, they do give a better sense of just how many runs a guy is worth as a fielder than most people had before they were developed.

    The positional adjustment really seems only to be about how hard it is to find an average defense player of that position. Note that 2Bs and 3Bs get only a small amoutn of positional credit, while SS get a lot and catcher's even more.

    But I think what you're missing is that, you are right that it isn't that hard to find middle infielders who can do league average defense or close -- AA, AAA, and major league back benches are full of them. What's hard is finding guys who are able to play those positions *and* bat at or close to major league average level.

    It's much easier to find guys with major league bats who can play 1B, LF or RF, that's why guys with any kind of legit major league bat who can play SS are fairly valuable, and guys with "average for a LF/RF" bats who are also elite defensive SS are sure-fire first ballot HoFers (c.f. Cal Ripken), and why "average for a 1B" bats who are barely acceptable defensive shortstops are also HoFers (c.f. Derek Jeter).

    My understanding is that the Rpos adjustment is based on what the average guy in the major leagues at each position does. So essentially it encodes the market understanding of the managers, GMs and coaches who decide how to fill their rosters of the value of average defensive play at the various positions.

    Unless there's a good way to gather separate data on the question, or studies to suggest that those professionals are making systemic mistakes about who to play where or how much to value bat vs. defense at various positions, that seems like the way to go. Generally, unless I am confident that I know something crucial that most or all market participants do not, I assume that a market aggregation of the opinions of relevant professionals who have a lot of incentive to be correct, is going to be far more accurate than my gut feelings about something.

  18. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I'm not sure I buy your percentages as particularly important. Ks is overrated as a negative stat for batters. An SF or SH isn't often worth a great deal and they aren't all that common either. In general, except for extra base hits and HRs, *how* you got on base or made an out, is just so much less important than *whether* you got on base, or made an out.

    To me, the OBP tells me everything that BB:K ratio tells me and more. His OBP isn't spectacular but it was noticeably above league average, from a position where we don't expect above league average.

    I don't like his steal percentages, and pretty much think he should have made many fewer attempts, but this negative is built into the WAR formula to my satisfaction.

    Note, I don't think Kent is a particularly clear choice. For me, he's borderline but in.

    On the question of who he hit with -- with the exception of a huge outlier like Barry Bonds, I think this makes so little difference for anything other than RBIs that it's not worth considering. Yes Bagwell and Berkman are great, but their difference from a typical #1-4 bat in terms of OBP is not gigantic. Remember, almost anybody who bats in the #3 or #4 position is going to have good OBP guys in front of them. Almost every team has 3-4 good bats, so if you are one of them, the chances are good you will be batting with other good bats around you in the order. You don't necessarily expect to be paired with Jeff Bagwell or Lance Berkman, but it's not unreasonable to assume that an average cleanup hitter will be behind or in front of, say a Victor Martinez or Derek Lee (or Jeff Kent for that matter), guys who are well above average.

    The difference between a hall of famer and the kind of above average player who will hit in the top half of most orders is not that huge. A 4% difference in getting on base is the difference between Berkman at #4 among active players, and Martinez at #36.

  19. Michael Sullivan@114:

    Yes, K is overrated as a negative stat for batters. We all agree that Jeff Kent was a good hitter, a valuable player. We all agree that he's "borderline", or what I would call a marginal Hall of Famer. We are now at the stage of looking at the little things, the minutiae that are perfectly valid means of distinguishing who should be in, and who should be out.

    Personally, I would prefer that my second baseman be able to, you know, play second base. I believe that the statistical record in Kent's case is rather kind, and that he was a worse fielder than what Total Zone says. I would prefer a second baseman who doesn't swing at everything, who knows when to steal and when not to, who doesn't ground into a ton of double plays. I would prefer a second baseman who isn't a negative in the clubhouse, and who doesn't hurt himself on his motorcycle in the off-season while lying to his team about it. Those are the nits that I choose to pick.

    Setting those nits aside, we come to what has been pointed out several times earlier on this thread--Kent is not (either in my opinion, or in the opinion of WAR) anywhere near as good a player as either Bobby Grich or Lou Whitaker, neither of whom is in the Hall. The reality is that Kent is only being considered an HoF candidate because of his gaudy batting numbers. It is my opinion that his career OPS+ (266th all-time) is good, but not that special. I don't think we're adjusting enough for the context in which he played. I think it's fair to rate Kent as somewhere between the 10th and 20th best second baseman of all time. Is that good enough for the Hall? When you consider what he has to offer other than his power hitting, I say no.

  20. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    look at Barry Bonds's 2001, possibly the best hitting season in all of baseball history with his 73 homers, in the middle of a lineup that wasn't exactly shabby. He recorded 137 RBIs, more than half were just from scoring himself on home runs.

    Of Bonds' 73 home runs, 46 came with the bases empty, 21 with one runner on base, four with two runners on, and two with the bases loaded. All told, he drove in 108 runs with his 73 home runs. Of the 29 other runs that he drove in, two came in on sacrifice flies, two on ground outs, seven on seven singles, and 18 on 14 doubles. That's undoubtedly one of the strangest "RBI profiles" ever.

  21. Seriously, 61% of people think he deserves to get in? He streak of good play was only nine years, and it was from 1997 to 2005; if I was on whatever hitters were taking back then, I'm pretty sure I could've had a few 30-homer campaigns. And it wasn't as if he was a great fielder.

    I wouldn't put him in the Hall in a million years, and I think the odds of him being elected are slim-to-none.

  22. arthur suckow Says:

    Ifollowed Kent as a Met and he was incredibly good for someone the Mets had no idea what to do with. His numbers suffered severly as his playing time was limited even though he was showing alot of pop due to poor management. I lost track of him as a giant as i was a young dr.and lost touch with baseball. With the inception of mlb I got to watch him as a Dodger and he was still a great player. He had a cannon for an arm and turned the dp better than any 2b I have seen. He also was deceptive because his size made him a great target for plays at 2nd and he had decent range up till 39. He could still be dhing in american league giving him rediculous numbers. He didn't get lucky to start at 24 like alot of players and retired at the right time.When he got help from Manny and Blake he hit close to .370 at 40. Unfortunately he hurt his knee on a terrible throw from Nomar and really couldn't help the dodgers get in the WS. I watch Utley almost every night and he doesn't hit the ball as hard as kent and isn't close to the fielder. No one points out that Kent has more extras than Mantle and is about 30th alltime plus 1500 plus rbis and .290 avg is better than many of the 'greats'. Iwatched this guy at 26 and 40 and he may be one of the very best.Morgan had everyone on his team so why didnt he hit .375?Kent was great but his name isn;t Griffy who started at 20 in the MLB but he isn't the player Kent was late in his career. Kent first ballot or all his hard work wasted. No sin in being quiet.