Comments on: POLL: Jeff Kent and the Hall of Fame This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: arthur suckow Mon, 16 Aug 2010 09:10:10 +0000 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.

By: Mike Sat, 14 Aug 2010 18:02:36 +0000 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.

By: Kahuna Tuna Fri, 13 Aug 2010 03:22:43 +0000 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.

By: Justin Jones Thu, 12 Aug 2010 20:53:55 +0000 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.

By: Michael E Sullivan Thu, 12 Aug 2010 15:35:54 +0000 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.

By: Michael E Sullivan Thu, 12 Aug 2010 14:40:48 +0000 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.

By: Justin Jones Thu, 12 Aug 2010 14:28:09 +0000 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.

By: Mike Felber Thu, 12 Aug 2010 06:32:21 +0000 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?

By: Michael E Sullivan Wed, 11 Aug 2010 18:06:34 +0000 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.


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.

By: John Q Wed, 11 Aug 2010 17:29:01 +0000 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.