Houston Astros: Examining former players Hall of Fame cases

Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning, 26 June 2001, in Phoenix. The Astros won 10-7. AFP PHOTO/Mike FIALA (Photo by Mike FIALA / AFP) (Photo by MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images)
Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning, 26 June 2001, in Phoenix. The Astros won 10-7. AFP PHOTO/Mike FIALA (Photo by Mike FIALA / AFP) (Photo by MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO – SEPTEMBER 23: Jeff Kent #12 of the Houston Astros looks on during the game against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park on September 23, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO – SEPTEMBER 23: Jeff Kent #12 of the Houston Astros looks on during the game against the San Francisco Giants at SBC Park on September 23, 2004 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

Jeff Kent

Jeff Kent‘s candidacy is an interesting case. He’s in his eighth year of eligibility, but 2020 was the first time he surpassed the 20 percent mark. So far this year, he’s been named on 24.3 percent of public ballots, so it’s not shaping up too well for him. I personally wouldn’t vote for him, but there is at least a legitimate debate to be had here.

Most of that centers around the fact that he’s arguably the greatest-hitting second baseman of all time. His 55.4 career WAR mark is solid, and he was a five-time All Star and won the MVP award in 2000. He has good stats — 2,461 hits, 560 doubles, 377 homers, 1,518 RBIs and a career slash line of .290/.356/.500 over 17 seasons.

Kent was a key contributor in two seasons with the Astros, totaling a .293/.350/.521 line with 49 homers and 200 RBIs. He provided a middle-of-the-order bat at a position that isn’t really known for it, so he was something of a novelty. He wasn’t flashy, but he was incredibly consistent.

The knocks on him are that he wasn’t a particularly strong defender and he wasn’t much of a stolen base threat. If he had played a different position — say third base, for instance — would he be getting the same support? There’s a case to be made that he’s more of a “Hall of Very Good” player than a Hall of Fame one.

The voting seems to bear that out. He’s already in his eighth year of eligibility, so he’s running out of time. Unless there’s some kind of a miraculous push over the next two years, it looks unlikely that Kent will make the Hall of Fame.

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