Alomar, Kent, And More Hall Of Fame Musings

I wasn’t originally planning on writing much about the Hall of Fame, but the discussions that have arisen over the last week or so – particularly the one about Andruw Jones‘ candidacy that we posed last week – have sparked some additional thoughts. Clearly, how defensive contributions should be valued is not universally agreed upon, and a player’s offensive numbers still generally carry the day when the question of Cooperstown comes up.

But defense is a consideration in the perception of a player’s value. For instance, consider this comparison between a second baseman who will almost certainly be elected on Wednesday and a second baseman who I doubt has any real chance of getting in when he hits the ballot.

Roberto Alomar: 2,371 games, .300/.371/.443, .365 wOBA, 125 wRC+
Jeff Kent: 2,286 games, .290/.356/.500, .366 wOBA, 125 wRC+

Their careers mostly overlap, so we don’t have to worry too much about adjusting for the era in which they played. They had the same career length, with both spending 17 seasons in the big leagues. Alomar got on base a little more often and stole more bases, but Kent had more power. Offensively, it’s basically a wash. They were similarly valuable hitters who had similarly long careers while playing the same position.

Yet, despite the offensive equality, I don’t know anyone who thinks Kent is a Hall of Famer, while Alomar was likely denied first ballot election only due to his spitting incident. The big difference between the two is their defensive reputations, as Alomar is considered (whether right or wrong) to be one of the best defensive second baseman of all time, while Kent is viewed as a below average defender at best.

In this case, it appears that defensive reputation is going to be the difference in election results. It seems like defensive value may only matter to the extent that it earns a label. Alomar is “good”, while Kent is “bad”, and with a slightly longer career and the same offensive value, Alomar gets in while Kent likely will not.

There does not, however, seem to be the same distinguishing between players in the same bucket. Sticking with the Andruw Jones’ discussion, he’s a similar hitter to Andre Dawson, who got elected last year. By defensive reputation, both land in the “good” category, as Dawson definitely got credit from the voters for his eight gold gloves. But he spent less than half his career in center field, and was never considered to be the same kind of once-in-a-generation fielder as Jones.

You could make a pretty good argument that the defensive value gap between Jones and Dawson is much larger than the one between Alomar and Kent, but in the outfield version of this same type of comparison, the lesser defender got in while the superior defender seems to be a long shot at best.

I understand the legitimate skepticism about our ability to nail down a player’s defensive value, and the tendency to lean more toward offensive performance when determining who is considered an All-Time Great. But I don’t really understand why we seem to be content to limit ourselves to just two buckets of defensive worth, applying our feelings about the value of a glove so inconsistently.

It’s not just BBWAA members – it’s all of us. I’d vote for Alomar and probably not vote for Kent too. But the more I think about the way we perceive different player types in retrospect, the more I think we should strive for some kind of consistency of standards. If we don’t think defense matters all that much, Kent should get in. If we do think it matters, Jones should get in. I find it hard to continue to hold that neither should get enshrined, which was a position I held up until a few days ago. When it comes to defensive value and the Hall of Fame, we will eventually have to pick a side.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

83 Responses to “Alomar, Kent, And More Hall Of Fame Musings”

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  1. Erik says:

    Kent is a deserving Hall of Famer. When I ranked second basemen a couple weeks ago, I placed Kent around 15th since 1900, sandwiched between Lou Whitaker and Billy Herman. He’s close to my cut-off (I have Bobby Doerr 17th and in, with 18th Willie Randolph out), but I’d vote for him.

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    • Rudy Gamble says:

      I agree. I have Jeff Kent a little higher (12th) behind Lou Whitaker (10th), Roberto Alomar (11th) with Billy Herman, Willie Randolph, and Bobby Doerr following.

      Kent’s career WAR (61.9 on FG) wouldn’t be enough in my eyes for 1B or OF but it’s impressive enough for 2B/SS/3B/C.

      I also don’t remember Kent being thought of as BAD defensively. Just medicore – mostly due to range. His defensive WAR (-1.8) tells that story. The surprising part – which I also covered in this post ( – is how BAD Roberto Alomar’s defensive WAR looks vs. his reputation….

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  2. maqman says:

    Your point is well made Dave.

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  3. Rob says:

    I remember Kent getting a lot of “future HOFer” tags at the end of his career. I think you’re off on the general perception.

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  4. Ryan says:

    I think PED speculation will also hurt Kent much more than it will Alomar.

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  5. CircleChange11 says:

    That’s strange. When Kent retired, I thought a lot of the talk is that he would be a HoF’er. Isn’t he the career HR and RBI leader for 2B’s? I thought that was the big deal at the time of his retirement?

    As for the defensive metrics … Holy Crap! We complain about Jeter’s 3 gold gloves (or whatever it is). Alomar has both [1] 10 gold gloves, and [2] negative fielding WAR (both FG and BR). Very difficult to make those things “mesh”.

    Have we heard anyone in baseball state or imply that Alomar was tremendously over-rated as a fielder? Does having a really good defensive 1B playing next him hurt Alomar’s defensive metrics? In other words, does Olerud ranging to hit right take away balls that Alomar could likely get to, that would help his metrics/range in the “bucket system” of advanced defensive metrics?

    I know gold gloves have their Rafael Palmeiros and Derek Jeters, but they’re not usually *that* bad, where they give an average or below average fielder a decade’s worth of gold gloves.

    Here are the defensive run values (FG) for all MLB players to win 10+ gold gloves. Greg Maddux and Jim Kaat are not included.


    I’m guessing you can pick out Roberto Alomar and Ken Griffey Jr. To be fair, Junior was -110 over his last 5 years. So, during his “reign”, he was a very good to good fielder in terms of defensive runs.

    Alomar was never below -6.7 and never above 11.

    Back to work.

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  6. Duncan says:

    Pretty sure the general perception of Kent is as one of the best offensive second baseman of all-time and a likely HOFer. I expect he will get into the HOF.

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  7. NEPP says:

    Jeff Kent is not a HoFer. Alomar is. (at least that’s how it will turn out)

    PED speculation will kill any chance of Kent making it in.

    Also, Alomar was a great defender despite what the fielding WAR stat suggests.

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    • Pig.Pen says:

      Where does all of the Jeff Kent PED speculation come from? The guy never put on a tremendous amount of weight, nor did he have the “look” of someone who was juicing. And, more importantly, he was never once linked to PED’s, the guy’s a Mormon so I doubt that would jibe would his personal beliefs. Is the PED stuff simply because he was BLB’s teammate? I would point out then that he and Bonds were often at each other’s throats.

      Jeff Kent is one of the top 10 greatest offensive shortstops ever and his defense while never great, ranged from average to slightly above average during his peak years. Given a choice I’d take Kent over Alomar, unless he was going to go in as a Fodger, in which case I would have him flogged publicly.

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    • Nepp, you have no knowledge of the future Hall of Fame voting for Alomar and Kent. As Dave said a few days ago, it isn’t helpful to state opinion as fact.

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  8. Table says:

    Kent not being a sure thing hall of famer is news to me. I think many recognize him as the greatest offensive second baseman of all time.

    “a second baseman who I doubt has any real chance of getting in when he hits the ballot.” I was shocked when I realized Dave was talking about Kent here.

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    • Rob Moore says:

      Greatest? That’s quite a stretch. He’s not in the same universe as Hornsby or Morgan.

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      • Jason B says:

        Agreed. Greatest solely in terms of HR/RBI (“power” stats) but not touching the overall offensive contributions of Morgan et al. In fact, Dave’s article rightly points out that he and Alomar are a wash offensively – Kent better at driving the ball over the fence and bringing home runs, Alomar better at getting on base and zipping around the basepaths.

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      • Table says:

        I’m not saying that he really is, just that many baseball fans will view his slugging accomplishments as unmatched historically, thus making him a hall of famer.

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  9. James Bill says:

    Kent is 37th all time in XBH, and 35 of the 36 in front of him did it in more PA’s. Dude mashed. And as for defensive run values, while Kent was -18.4 for his career, he was -36.4 over his last 4 years. It’s not like he was killing his team (before that). I think he’s a deserving HoF-er, but even if you don’t, he has to be in the discussion.

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  10. rotofan says:

    There may be a case to be made that hall of fame voters have applies defensive value in an inconsistent manner.

    But the most glaring difference between Alomar and Kent is that that the former established himself from the get-go as the game’s best second baseman while the latter was a late-bloomer. Kent didn’t make an all-star-game until he was 31, had been considered a modest failure with the Blue Jays and was traded twice before he made a name for himself. Kent didn’t slug .500 until he was age 30 — the first of eight years in a row of exceeding that mark.

    Before Alomar turned 30 he had been an eight-time all star with seven gold gloves and three top-6 MVP years. He was viewed as a potential hall-of-famer almost from the start. While he faded quickly after his age 33 season, by that time he had made 12 all-star games in a row.

    Their different early career trajectories cemented the public perception of their talents — Alomar was a hall of a fame while Kent was, until well into his career, a middle infielder with some pop. While Kent was the far superior hitter in their 30s, his performance those latter years never came close to erasing that earlier perception.

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    • odbsol says:

      Late bloomer = suspected PED user in this era.

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    • doh says:

      Kent wasn’t a modest failure being a 2nd with the Blue Jays, his problem was he was stuck behind a future HOF named Alomar. Plus he was needed in the Cone trade a little while later.

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  11. NEPP says:

    Lots of people perceive Kent as a major juicer and it really hurts his chances is all.

    Is that fair? Probably not but that’s reality right now.

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    • Fred says:

      Kent has actively spoken out against steroids whilst never being linked. Hell he’s the one guy who dared go against Barry in the SFG clubhouse.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        In the SFG dugout.

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      • NEPP says:

        I said “perceive” for a reason…whether or not its true, it still hurts him. I dont agree with it myself (the unfounded accusation with no evidence) but I am merely stating that it exists.

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      • NEPP says:

        Palmeiro made some pretty strong statements against PEDs too…

        Look, I agree with what you’re saying but it sadly will hurt him regardless.

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  12. T says:

    Wasn’t there a discussion about how the hall of fame also rates a player’s infamy at the time? As in – a player that is more famous actually deserves to get in more than a player who is less famous according to the standards of the hall of fame itself?

    I could have sworn I read that somewhere, but now it completely escapes me.

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    • Ricky says:

      Bleacher Report?

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    • Los says:

      I think you are referring to that moron on the radio known as Colin Cowherd. He made an argument regarding that several weeks ago I believe. I’d check my sources but no one on ESPN radio does so I will just assume it is true.

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      • SF 55 for life says:

        “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

        Says nothing about being famous.That was 110% Colin Cowherd who went out and basically said that “well known” players were the only ones who should get in.

        Because, you know, its obviously impossible to take a player’s career for granted and completely overlook them. Oh and by the way Ron Santo says HI.

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      • Jason B says:

        All that said, I *do* think there is something to that. I think we’ve seen some better known but perhaps lesser players get enshrined (Rice, Dawson, et al) but their less famous but equally good contemporaries (Evans) sit and wait and come nowhere close. Do casual fans know much of anything about Lou Whitaker (for example)? When a casual fan hears that name, does it evoke a feeling of “surefire HOF’er”? I would think that it does not.

        (This is totally conjecture and I have zero evidence to back it up, but I do think it “sounds” reasonable enough. Not to explain *every* HOF vote in black-and-white, but perhaps as a contributing factor.)

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  13. Graham says:

    If I had to peg the “general impression” of Kent, I would think he’d be an almost certain HOFer. He put up gaudy RBI totals, maintained an amazing level of consistency late into his 30s, went to a World Series, won a (misguided) MVP, and anecdotally played decent defense (he was the poster-boy for “solid, if unspectacular.”) I’m very surprised, Dave, that you think the public is so down on him.

    My own opinion is that Kent should get in — I loved watching him hit for my Giants, and in the years after he left the Bay, I found him to be one of the more menacing hitters in the league. Perhaps that last perception shouldn’t count for much, but you can’t prove that to Jim Rice. (And yes, I know it’s totally misguided to compare a prospective HOFer to the absolute lowest Hall standard — but to me, Kent was a much better player and I’m merely comparing their reputations, not their qualifications.)

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    • NEPP says:

      Jim Rice as a HoF makes me want to break things. But then I see Phil Rizzutto’s plaque and realize that it was only fair to give the Sox a BS HoF too.

      And Dwight Evans never got more than 10% of the vote…go figure.

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      • gabriel says:

        Regarding Rizzuto, I think that’s a bit of a low blow. He was, over his career, a league-average hitter, but a great defensive shortstop. He’s akin to Ozzie Smith in profile, though a slightly better hitter and a less-brilliant defensize whiz. Perhaps more importantly, Rizzuto lost three of his prime years to WWII (ages 25-27); as an aside, it looks like the time off had a hangover for Rizzuto- he had his 2nd-worst hitting season the year he came back. I think he’s a genuine Hall-of-Famer.

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  14. philosofool says:

    Kent spent six seasons being a league average hitter and then at age 30 surged to prominence as an offensive 2B. Leaving aside the issue of PEDs this will surely raise, I think the way age affects our view of players comes into this discussion as well. When a guy starts playing at the all-star level around age 23 or 24, we immediately begin to see him as potentially among the best in his generation. When Kent breaks out at age 30, we see it as a fluke. When he repeats it at 31, we think it might be real, but we expect a collapse soon, because that’s what 32 year old second basemen do. Kent comes along and proves himself for several more years, but he’s working against our antecedently formed expectations, while Alomar works with them. It’s a kind of confirmation bias, and probably not grounded in reason. But it goes a long way to explain our differential perceptions.

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    • NEPP says:

      Whatever do you mean? Its totally natural to suddenly explode in your 30s in your 2nd season in what was the hub of the PED industry for baseball. Nothing at all suspicious about that.

      3 seasons prior to his explosion (1995-1997): .782 OPS
      5 seasons following (1998-2002): .926 OPS

      There’s nothing suspicious at all about that…especially when you consider the first 3 seasons are in the typical peak years for a position player (age 27-29) and the following 5 are in the typical slow decline years (age 30-34). Entering the 1998 season, Jeff Kent was a career .779 OPS hitter in just under 3000 PA. He suddenly transformed the following year.

      Sure, its no guarantee that he juiced but its pretty suspicious looking on the surface.

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      • Squire says:

        Do you realize how ridiculous this sounds? There is no hard evidence that Kent was a “juicer.” As far as I know, nobody has ever seriously accused the guy of using PEDs. He has never been a serious suspect in any PED investigation, and he has actively spoken against PED use.

        You are essentially saying, “Because a guy’s numbers LOOK like the kind of numbers a PED user would put up, I think the guy is a juicer an therefore not deserving of the HOF.” You have already made a judgment about a guy that is not rooted in any truth, just perception.

        HOF voters should not be the judge, jury, and executioners in deciding whether a player gets into the HOF without something more than mere “perception.” If a player puts up HOF-caliber numbers, then he deserves to be in, absent hard evidence that he used PEDs.

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      • Jason B says:

        ^^ This. Squire just knocked that outta the park.

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      • NEPP says:

        I’m merely saying what the perception is and why some think that. Yeah, of course its ridiculous…that doesnt make it any less true (the perception and its effects on his candidacy).

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      • TK says:

        The perception is that many people use the phrase “the perception is” as a cover to just say what they think. Generally, the things that are perceived are not based on facts, but rather on pure speculation.

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  15. chuckb says:

    I understand the notion that, if Dawson deserves to be in the Hall, so does Jones but I don’t believe that Dawson deserves to be in the Hall. Therefore, I’m on the fence vis-a-vis Jones. Those who voted for Dawson should also vote for Jones but I’m more inclined to believe that neither deserve to be in the Hall than both do.

    On the other hand, in playing around w/ WAR graphs the other day, I compared some HOF’ers who are in there for their defense — Brooks Robinson, Ozzie, and Mazeroski — to Jones and Jones’ WAR is better than 2 of the 3.

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  16. dondbaseball says:

    Dave brings up some interesting points on perception and the axiom is perception is reality seems to apply that Alomar will get in. This perception certainly was promoted during the Cleveland years with Vizquel who I also believe to be vastly over-rated defensively but that’s a topic for another day. I think the more interesting observation would be Biggio vs. Kent. I would take Kent in a heart-beat but am curious to others opinions. The perception there too is that Biggio will get in due to 3000 hits and playing for one club.

    My only critique of Dave’s article is the Andruw Jones observations. Andruw has an OPS+ of 111 while Andre’s is 119. Their WAR is 59.9 and 57 respectively. Andre has 1 MVP including 4 top 10 votes and 9 times in the top 20. Andruw has always been recognized as a superior defensive wizard but this was not translated as much in MVP voting as he managed only 2 top 10′s and 5 top 20′s. Andruw has 23.7 WAR from defense (40% of his total) while Andre has only 7.3 (13%). So yes, defensive metrics are growing in stature but I still think their is a lot of work to do to really validate those kinds of contributions to WAR and in my mind, Andruw is not a Hall of Fame player.

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  17. Xave says:

    So, my takeaway is we should add more “buckets”. I propose a 7-bucket spectrum: “ridiculously f***in awesome”, “(ridiculously f***in awesome + pretty dece, yo)/2″, “pretty dece, yo”, “meh”, “a notch below meh”, “nickelback”, “sweeney todd (read: a butcher)”

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  18. Bushrod Park says:

    Where does all this speculation about PEDs come from? I live in the Bay Area (A’s fan) and I don’t remember much speculation about Kent, other than the fact that he played in “The Era”. The only hints about PEDs were that maybe he got a contact high from being in the on deck circle while Bonds was hitting. Sure he was a late bloomer, but is it a coincidence that his best years came hitting behind Bonds?

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    • JRoth says:

      Surely he was hurt by hitting behind Bonds – the damn bases were always empty. Probably why he hated Barry so much – “Would it kill you to leave me an RBI opportunity once in a while?”

      [This is a joke, of course, given Bonds' walks.]

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    • NEPP says:

      No idea where it comes from (other than the stat breakdown I provided). I’ve seen and heard it a bunch of times though.

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  19. Nick Smith says:

    Dave saying he doesn’t know anyone who thinks Kent is a Hall of Famer reminds me of the story about New Yorker writer Pauline Kael saying after the 1972 election that she didn’t know anyone who voted for Nixon. It tells you more about the person saying it and how out of touch they are than what people in general actually think.

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  20. Griggs says:

    Put me in the camp that thinks Kent will make the HOF and if he doesn’t it will only be because of PED suspitions.

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  21. lookatthathat says:

    Rizzuto was a decent hitting shortstop in an era when there were none. He lost 4 years of his prime to the war. He was an incredible announcer, a philanthropist, and by all accounts a great person (he got along with Joe D for heavens sake). He belongs in the hall.

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    • SF 55 for life says:

      put him in as an announcer then. he was elected as a baseball player, and he wasn’t a very good one.

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    • Jason B says:

      I think Scooter is another prime example of a player getting in on “fame” more so than merit. If a name gets tossed around in enough headlines, features, and broadcasts, people start to believe he’s the best (or one of the best) regardless of whether his play aligns with that.

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  22. MikeS says:

    Did you check your own stats pages? Interesting…

    By TZ you actually have Kent superior to Alomar over his career. Alomar has 10 negative seasons at 2B, Kent 7. Another demonstration of the inadequacy of defensive metrics. I don’t think anybody (obviously including the very sabremetrically oriented Cameron) who thinks Kent was anywhere near the fielder Alomar was.

    The difference in total WAR of 6.3 is due to Alomar getting 10.4 points of positional bonus since he exclusively played 2B and Kent played 117 games at 1B and 157 at 3B.

    As for Kent/Alomar/Dawson/Jones, maybe people consider outfield defense to be less important than infield defense, even in center? They expect OF/1B to hit betetr than 2B/SS/3B. IF they don’t, they aren’t as good, even if they do other things? Just a guess.

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    • Jason B says:

      “maybe people consider outfield defense to be less important than infield defense, even in center? They expect OF/1B to hit betetr than 2B/SS/3B. IF they don’t, they aren’t as good, even if they do other things? Just a guess.”

      I think that’s true. I would think that voters weigh defense more heavily at positions expected to be premium defensive positions – the “up the middle” positions of C, 2B, SS, and CF.

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  23. TexasRanger says:

    I hate to pile on Dave, but as is the general consensus I remember Kent at the end of his career being talked about as sure fire hall of famer. In Fact it happened so often that my friends and families would have arguments over what team he would go in under (as a Giants fan I said SF but I live in LA so our opinions differed.)

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  24. spliff(TONE) says:

    Seriously? If you doubt Kent has any real chance of making the HOF, I have to doubt your level of baseball knowledge.

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  25. Griggs says:

    I just reviewed the last 15 years of HOF writers elections and here are the players(no Pitchers or Catchers) that made it that I feel benefitted by the perception(at least) that they were good defensively – Puckett, Sandberg, Dawson, Smith, and Alomar if he gets in this week. I don’t believe any of these guys would of made it on offense alone and only Smith needed a lot of help from his defense. I agree with all of them being elected but I’ve noticed that at least the Alomar and Puckett defensive figures on this site don’t match the perceptions of the voters(nor my own). I’m probably in the minority but I like the way the system works now where 500 or so baseball writers vote based on what they or their sources saw and then have to reach a 75% majority.

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  26. Mr Punch says:

    There is still a big, big difference between fielding reputation and fielding metrics, with the former counting for much more in HOF voting. Alomar, when he was playing, had the reputation (based on, let’s say, subjective evaluation by experts) of being not only the best-fielding 2B of his time, but possibly the best ever. That matters much more than being better than Jeff Kent.

    There is a more basic problem with giving great weight to fielding in HOF decisions: Ballplayers basically make the majors and sustain their careers with their bats. Sure, there are some guys who wash out despite big-league bats, but there are many more great fielders who can’t hit enough to make the grade. The Andruw Jones comparison is dubious because fielding matters much less in the evaluation of outfielders (even center fielders) than of middle infielders. I saw Jones play, and he was no Gary Pettis.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I saw Jones play, and he was no Gary Pettis.


      You HAVE to go to a game with a sign that reads “You’re No Gary Pettis”.

      If you can make it to Chitown, I’ll buy the tickets.

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  27. Padman Jones says:

    In re Kent’s supposed PED use:

    I suspect that people want to throw him in with steroid users because no one liked the guy. Everyone knows how managers and writers love to praise intangibles; I think that’s, in part, a way to give compliments to a player that the manager or writer likes, while removing room for disagreement. If you’re writing about how gritty David Eckstein is and how he’s a real leader in the clubhouse, well, dissenters can’t point to his poor hitting numbers and say “ah-ha! You’re wrong!”

    Conversely, when talking about someone they don’t like, a person can cast intangible aspersions and be beyond argumentative reproach (excepting the fact that they’re kind if cheating the argument). Kent was not especially popular during his playing days, part of which I blame on his inability to look cool with a mustache, and so it’s easy for someone who doesn’t like him to say ‘oh, he definitely juiced.’ That argument can’t be proven wrong, and will, because of Kent’s public perception, find a lot of sympathetic ears.

    So while his late-career surge may suggest PED use, my suspicion is that, like saying a hitter is ‘feared’ or a particular fielder covers the third of the world left untouched by oceans, calling Kent a juicer is a convenient way to dismiss his HOF case.

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  28. Andy S says:

    ” I don’t know anyone who thinks Kent is a Hall of Famer”

    Then you are quite disconnected with baseball fans.

    Do I think he deserves it? No. But I know tons of people who do.

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  29. Jeff says:

    The fact that Sweet Lou Whittaker didnt even make it off the first ballot, make the entire HOF a JOKE to me…

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    • Jason B says:

      Of all the inexplicable votes, that was the one single indignity that broke the camel’s back, eh?

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    • Lou Whitaker's mom says:

      It was the one that did it for me, too…

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Bobby Grich was a HoF snub the decade before Sweet Lou was.

      Sweet Lou needs to take a number and get in line in terms of being snubbed. There are greater players than he, who are waiting their turn.

      Whitaker could have helped his cause by having at least one season greater than 6.5 WAR. Seriously he doesn’t stand out because well, he never stood out. He was the model of being consistently very good. It’s easy to take him for granted.

      For comparison, Ryno had 3 such seasons, Joe Morgan 5, Bobby Grich 3, Roberto Alomar 2, Jeff Kent 2,

      Whitaker only had 2 6-WAR seasons. Let’s not make it sound like he was dominating the landscape during the time. He was basically between league average and all-star level for almost every year of his career. Following the MVP careers of Joe Morgan, and being a peer of Ryne Sandberg, makes it understandable to overlook a player absent some dominant seasons.

      That doesn’t mean Sweet Lou doesn’t belong in the HoF, only that he’s not the most obvious snub.

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      • Eric R says:

        Not that I’m really arguing one way or the other, but while Kent has more seasons over 6.5 than Whitaker, they have the same over 6.0 and Whitaker has more 5.5+, 5.0+, 4.5+, 4.0+, 3.5+, etc years… Whitaker has more 4.5+, 4.0+, 3.5+, etc years than Sandberg…

        In their six best years, Kent and Whitaker were dead even in fWAR. From that point on, Whitaker has a significant edge, so Kent>Whitaker only if you really, really, really heavily weight the top 2-3 years.

        Whitaker vs Alomar; pull out Alomar’s best year [7.4 WAR] and FOUR of Whitaker’s mid-3 years and they’re pretty even; 14.5 WAR spread over four years vs 7.4 in one year?

        A similar exercise has Sandberg’s two best years [15.7 WAR] vs three years around 5 and three more around 4. 26.8 WAR in six years or 15.7 in two.

        Grich ups the ante again- take out his THREE best years [22.3 total] for six of Whitakers ~4 WAR years. The totals come out pretty even on the ‘swapped’ years [22.3 vs 23.4 WAR].

        Sometimes you trade your star who is under control for a year or two or three to get a player with less per year value but more years of control. If that ever makes sense, then some of the above ‘swaps’ might also make sense… I wouldn’t figure the Grich swap as sensible in that way, since it is pretty much 1-for-1, but the others, perhaps.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I am completely up front about my STRONG preference for peak seasons. I don’t understand why we count 3 WAR seasons toward the HoF at all. But, I also understand the poor decision of making a cutoff at X, where X – 0.1 doesn;t count for anything.

        However, a dude named Steve, had this pretty good idea over at Tango’s.

        I’m not a fan of the arbitrary cut off at 2, 3, 5, what ever. Do you really want to say someones 4.9 WAR is worth 9.8 and another guys 5 is worth 15?

        For me it would be the seasonal sum of (WAR-2)^(1.75-(2/WAR)

        WAR / HoFWAR
        0 – 0
        1 – 0
        2 – 0
        3 – 1
        4 – 2.4
        5 – 4.4
        6 – 7.1
        7 – 10.6
        8 – 14.7
        9 – 19.5
        10 – 25.1

        Essentially WAA*scalar where that scalar increases with WAA.

        That works for me. I’ll plug this into a spreadsheet later and throw some players in and see what happens. I’ll let the chips fall where they may.

        The player’s that the scalar aspect is going to hurt are those that are primarily good for being dominant in one thing … Ozzie Smith. It’s gonna kill Ozzie, because you can’t have 8 WAR seasons with defense and baserunning.

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  30. Max Grady says:

    In 30 years of watching baseball, Roberto Alomar was not only the greatest 2nd-sacker I witnessed in that period, but one of the best all-around ballplayers regardless of position.

    In his prime, Alomar dominated the game; he could bunt for a hit, steal 3rd base, launch a game-winning homer, and field a ground ball near the foul line, ALL in the same game. He was so good such performances were expected rather than a surprise. In the playoffs, he dialed his play up a notch, and had a knack for getting big hits in huge situations, in every game. On top of all that, he was a switch-hitter.

    I was at a game in 92 or 93 at the Skydome against the Yankees (or was it Baltimore? don’t remember which) when 1B John Olerud dove for a fast-rolling, bouncing ground ball near the first base foul line. It was a surefire double or possibly even a triple. Seemingly out of nowhere, Robbie Alomar comes flying across the grass, sliding about 10 feet on his stomach, makes the grab in mid-somersault, and threw a strike to 1B, balancing on one knee, while his entire body was almost completely horizontal to the ground. Got the runner out by half a step.

    It was the single greatest play I’ve ever seen, before or since.

    It was the kind of play that had people dropping their hotdogs and beer onto their seats in their excitement to stand up, clap, and pay homage to history.

    Jeff Kent. Excellent hitter, great power for a 2B, and yeah even decent in the playoffs. However, Kent had nowhere near the level of impact that Alomar had on a game.

    What made Alomar so great? It wasn’t just familial baseball genes, it was crazy dedication. In his early Bluejay days, he actually lived at the Skydome. He rented room in the hotel that is built into the stadium. As a result, Alomar was always the first one in the cage, because he LIVED at the ballpark. I don’t know what it was like when he left Toronto, but a lot of baseball in Canada left with him.

    So he spit on an umpire. The umpire alledgedly spouted a racial slur at Alomar to provoke him. There are many in the Hall that have committed far worse crimes against baseball, and humanity. Alomar not getting in on the first ballot last year, now that was a REAL crime.

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  31. Mike Green says:

    Lots of people (from the sabermetric crowd to outside) believe that Kent should be in the Hall of Fame. Is he likely to get there? Probably not. Take an example- Jimmy Wynn vs. Andre Dawson as centerfielders. They are both on the margins on the merits. The writers voted in Dawson, while Wynn was ignored. Why? Perhaps because Dawson was more famous due to his (less productive) years with the Cubs. One guesses that Kent was not, despite the MVP award and the fine post-season record, famous enough. I’ll bet that he does clear the 5% threshold though, unlike Whitaker.

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  32. Anthony says:

    I honestly believe both should be in the HOF, and like some have already mentioned, i’m not quite sure where this notion came from that Kent will almost assuredly not become a HOF’er? I was under the impression that most people viewed him as a future HOF’er once he retired…perhaps i’m mistaken?

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  33. EricJ says:

    Wow, this is the first I’ve heard about the general perception of Kent being so low. I’ve read countless times about him being a surefire HOF’er. I’m sure more than a few of those arethers are voting members. Care to share where this feeling is derived from?

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  34. Kapcenter says:

    Kent is an interesting case. But it’s less about his numbers and whether he deserves to get in (I think he does) and more about the voting habits of the baseball writers and how Kent stacks up against his competition.

    In the past 50 years, the Baseball Writers have only elected more than 2 players once, and that was the Ryan-Brett-Yount class of 1999, when Carlton Fisk (a shoo-in) got bumped to the next year. Assuming this pattern holds (of course it may not), the question is when will Kent be considered one of the top 2 or 3 eligible players.

    Certainly not 2014 when he’s eligible. Even if Alomar, Blyleven, Larkin, Biggio, and Piazza are already enshrined, he’s the same class as Frank Thomas, Maddux, and Glavine. In 2015, he loses to Randy Johnson, Smoltz, and Pedro. So his first legit shot is 2016, with Ken Griffey Jr. But even then, he’ll have to beat out who’s left of Raines, Bagwell, McGriff, Jack Morris, Larry Walker, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, etc. plus the Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro steroids group, and newcomers like Schilling, Mussina, etc.

    Even with his HR as a 2B record, Kent strikes me as the kind of guy who sits on the ballot for awhile. But without the goodwill of a Rice or Dawson, he may be a Veterans Committee guy.

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  35. John Smith says:

    Jones vs. Dawson? Dawson has 1,000 more hits, 330 more RBI, 150 more stolen bases, BA .279 to .256 in 2,500 more at-bats. Similar offensive players? Clueless

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  36. shthar says:

    I wouldn’t have thought Kent had a chance at the hall. Until I found out the requirements to be a voter.

    That said, as far as defence, I’ve found the best way to judge someone’s overall career with the glove is to see what other posistions they played.

    Kent played 157 at 3b, 117 at 1b and 3 at ss.

    Alomar played 5 games at ss.

    Another good determing hall of fame item, is how young did they start in the majors?

    Alomar had 4 years in the bigs before Kent appeared. If the team Kent was on had brought him up at age 20, he’d probably have added enough to his offensive numbers that the hall would be a slam dunk for him.

    This isn’t a slam against Kent, baseball people aren’t really very good at determining who a good player is.

    Just one of those things, if you’re not lucky enuf to play for a team that brings you up early, you just never will catch up to guys that have a 2-4 year lead on you. IF you both keep playing.

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    • NEPP says:

      If Kent was ready to be brought up at Age 20, he probably would have been. Thus, that argument doesn’t really hold any weight.

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  37. Ben Hall says:

    First, I would be surprised if Kent didn’t get in.

    The WAR graphs tell two stories:

    The first graph shows us that Kent had two great seasons and then several good ones. Alomar’s two best seasons aren’t quite at Kent’s level by fWAR, but his 3rd and 4th best are significantly better, and 5th and 6th (and to a lesser degree 7th) are all noticeably better. His peak was higher, and I think that’s a big part of the perception.

    The second graph demonstrates what a couple of people have already pointed out: because Alomar was a star in his early 20s and Kent wasn’t until he was 30, there was always a sizable gap in their career value until Alomar retired.

    Finally, though, I agree with Dave’s general point. While the WAR graphs can give us some extra insight into why Kent and Alomar are perceived differently, if we add the perception of Alomar as a truly great defender, the perceived differences are that much greater.

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  38. Clifford says:

    Dave, this one statement “..I don’t know anyone who thinks Kent is a Hall of Famer…” seriously misses the mark.

    I know a lot of people who think Kent is a HOF. Is he a slam dunk? By no means. But does he have some support? Absolutely. To say that no one thinks of Kent as a HOF is off – by a long shot.

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  39. NEPP says:

    Speaking of guys that deserve to get in…isn’t it a bit sad the complete lack of support that Dave Parker has gotten?

    I mean, yeah he’s a borderline guy in a lot of respects but he’s got good enough counting stats, won the right trophies and was a feared hitter (the stupid Rice argument) in his day. 15% last year is just sad. And he’s never gotten higher than 25% of the vote. He just doesnt pass the sniff test I guess.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      ~38 WAR is borderline? I’m not mocking (neither you nor Parker).

      I’ve been arguing that Keith Hernandez (61 WAR) should be borderline instead of a “no”. I find it stunning that Parker would be considered “borderline”.

      I would consider Dawson borderline (57 WAR), and Rice a “no”. Granted if Rice in at with 41 WAR, then yes, Parker would be borderline.

      There really is no consistency or consensus on Hall of Fame voting. It’s worse than I thought.

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  40. The Nicker says:

    It was kinda touched on but I think what you may be missing Dave is that many of your readers appear to be “Small Hall” guys (and gals).

    I bet if you post a poll asking whether Andre Dawson should be in the Hall you’re likely to receive results that look worse than Andruw Jones.

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  41. dREaDs Fan says:

    Here’s a suggestion for a Fangraphs feature: most idiotic HOF ballots. First suggestion: some guy at ESPN named Stanton who voted NO to Alomar, Blyleve, and Larkin … but YES to Tino Martinez, Mattingly, and Surhoff.

    You can’t make this up:

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  42. mhad says:

    Kent doesn’t deserve the hall of fame because he created problems in team chemistry and marked the end of era for a franchise by singing with their chief rival. Great numbers, shitty character.

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