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Kent reflects on career, waiting for HOF call

MLB.com @ladsonbill24

NEW YORK -- Jeff Kent continues to wait on a call from the Baseball Hall of Fame. The all-time leader in home runs among second basemen was named on 14.5 percent of the ballots this year, well short of the 75 percent required for election.

In his first year of eligibility in 2014, Kent received 15.2 percent of the vote. The next year, he fell to 14 percent of the vote, before rising to 16.6 percent in 2016. Last year, he notched up to 16.7 percent before trending down again this year.

NEW YORK -- Jeff Kent continues to wait on a call from the Baseball Hall of Fame. The all-time leader in home runs among second basemen was named on 14.5 percent of the ballots this year, well short of the 75 percent required for election.

In his first year of eligibility in 2014, Kent received 15.2 percent of the vote. The next year, he fell to 14 percent of the vote, before rising to 16.6 percent in 2016. Last year, he notched up to 16.7 percent before trending down again this year.

Kent joined the Newsmakers podcast (episode 131) and shared his thoughts on why he has not yet received the necessary votes to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

"The most obvious reason is [that] the steroid era has cluttered the Hall of Fame ballot with so many players who had great seasons," Kent said. "There is so much speculation on whether they are cheaters or not. I don't know. That may be part of the bigger problem. I have some other opinions, too. There is no sense hashing it out, because my opinion isn't going to matter one way or the other."

"I wish I would have played in a different era. I stayed relatively heathy. I had a few injuries here and there; that comes with playing the middle of the infield. For those people that are out there, what I want them to know is, I wasn't anybody special where I came from. But hard work can pan out. It did for me and I hope it satisfies people."

During his six years in San Francisco, Kent and Barry Bonds were a powerful 1-2 punch in the middle of the Giants' lineup.

Kent's best season in San Francisco was in 2000. He won the National League MVP after hitting .334/.424/.596 with 33 home runs and 125 RBIs.

Besides the Giants, Kent played for five other teams -- the Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Astros and Dodgers -- during his 17-year career.

Kent acknowledged that he wasn't the most outgoing person toward the media early in his career, as well as the impact that might have on his chances for induction. Nevertheless, Kent said he cared more about his teammates and winning games than about media perception.

"There is so much fake news and innuendo, and the media is trying to stick it to you," Kent said. "There were so many stories [written] that were false and that irritated me. I was a guy that came from [University of California] Berkeley. I had a good education, I was a smart guy and I stood up for myself. I wasn't afraid to say, 'You know what? No. That's a stupid question and I'm not answering it.'

"But if you talk to the few good reporters who have been around the game a while, they always came to me for the real story, not that. They were real stories and they were the truth. I never lied to the media."

Asked to describe his career in the big leagues, Kent said: "I loved the game. I played the game the way it was supposed to be played. I played it with honor, respect and I played it the right way."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002 and does a podcast, Newsmakers. He also could be found on Twitter @ladsonbill24.