Kent's Hall support holds steady from '14 debut
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Kent has insisted that he won't dwell on his fate in Hall of Fame balloting, since it's not only out of his control but also is basically inconsequential to him.
Likely, then, Kent figuratively or literally shrugged his shoulders when the Baseball Writers' Association of America voting results were announced on Tuesday and showed his totals were virtually unchanged from last year, his first on the ballot.
Kent is the all-time leader among second basemen with 351 home runs, 1,389 RBIs, a .509 slugging percentage and 508 doubles. Those statistics did not influence a preponderance of voters, given his 14 percent share of the vote -- 77 of 549. Last year, Kent's name was checked off on 15.2 percent of ballots.
Kent, the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2000 with San Francisco who made five All-Star teams in a 17-year career, very likely could see his vote totals improve in coming years. Unless it slips below five percent, he'll appear for eight more years on the ballot.
With fewer unquestioned stars on the ballot who are guaranteed election -- such as Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas last year and Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez this year -- Kent should gain more attention as a legitimate selection for Cooperstown. Moreover, among voters focusing on infielders, Kent probably will rise in prominence now that Craig Biggio has crossed the threshold from candidate to Cooperstown.
And the simple passage of time often can sharpen voters' appreciation for performers such as Kent, who accumulated superb statistics without focusing on them.
"He wasn't a guy who got caught up in numbers. He just wanted to go out and win," former Giants left-hander Kirk Rueter said. "I think that's what everybody appreciated about him."