Former Giants 2B Kent makes Hall of Fame case for playing 'the right way'

Former Giants 2B Kent makes Hall of Fame case for playing 'the right way'

Jeff Kent is in his fourth year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. In years past, Kent hasn't come close to the 75 percent of votes needed for enshrinement into Cooperstown.

After becoming eligible for the Hall in 2014, Kent received 15.2 percent of the vote. That number fell to 14 percent in 2015 before rising up to 16.6 in 2016. What makes Kent a Hall of Fame player for his 17-year career in his own eyes?

"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," Kent told MLB.com.

Over his big-league career, Kent hit .290/.356/.500 with 377 home runs -- the most ever by a second baseman. His best days came in San Francisco, in which he slashed .297/.368/.535 and bashed 175 home runs in six years. 

To his former manager in San Francisco, Dusty Baker, the numbers speak for themself. 

"It's what you see is what you get when you talk about Jeff Kent," said Baker, now manager for the Nationals. "There is nothing phony about him. I enjoyed having him on the team. He played hard for me. Jeff Kent, he is the man."

Kent is baffled by his lack of votes. As a baseball traditionalist, he looks away from the analytical numbers that new-aged voters are beginning to use for the Hall. 

"I don't know why [the vote total isn't higher]. I don't get it. They come up with these WAR numbers, which I don't understand and they never had before," said Kent. "It gets me to scratching my head. I don't know."

The WAR (Wins Above Replacement) that Kent speaks of places him 19th all-time in MLB history among second basemen at 55.2, according to Baseball Reference. Kent's WAR is above nine Hall of Fame second basemen and behind 12.

In San Francisco, Kent formed one of the best power-hitting duos in the game with Barry Bonds. The two played six seasons together for the Giants (1997-2002), combining for 454 home runs and three National League MVP awards. Kent took home the 2000 NL MVP, edging Bonds who finished in second place, after hitting .334/.424/.596 with 33 home runs and 125 RBI. 

If it's not his numbers that are leaving Kent out of Cooperstown, is it his rocky relationship he formed with the media?

"Yes, I was a [smart alec] now and then, but if you looked at a lot of media that talked to me, there are plenty of people who said if you wanted a good honest source, you go to Jeff Kent. If you wanted a [dishonest] answer, go to somebody else," Kent said. "But you better watch out for Jeff Kent though. If he is having a bad day, he may not want to talk to you, and that was right because I took the game seriously.

"I really love the game. I cared about the game. I kept the game close to me, and a lot of the media wanted to get close to me. I kind of pushed them away. I really didn't want to talk to the media sometimes. So did that build up to a frictional relationship? Probably."

The 2017 Hall of Fame class will be announced on January 18.

Giants hammer three homers in third straight spring training win

Giants hammer three homers in third straight spring training win

BOX SCORE

At Goodyear, Arizona, Joe Panik, Conor Gillaspie and Jarrett Parker homered for San Francisco. Jimmy Rollins singled and scored twice.

Giants lefty Matt Moore went 1 1/3 innings in his first start of the spring, allowing one run and one hit. He walked two and struck out three.

Cincinnati starter Tim Adleman pitched two innings, giving up four hits and two runs.

Giants spring training Day 14: Moore, Beede debut as SF improves to 3-0

Giants spring training Day 14: Moore, Beede debut as SF improves to 3-0

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — An hour after he gave up a run, walked two, and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings, Matt Moore stood in front of his locker and smiled.

“I usually stink in spring training,” he said. 

That’s not entirely true. By spring training standards, Moore’s 4.06 ERA over 19 exhibition appearances is practically Cy Young-worthy. But the Giants have come to find that Moore, acquired at the deadline last summer, has high standards. He lived up to them the last time he took the mound in orange and black, throwing eight brilliant innings in the final game of the 2016 season. 

Moore had a long offseason to think about the way the postseason ended. He said he doesn’t have regrets. 

“The ball doesn’t go your way, but there’s nothing about what happened that night that I second-guess,” he said. “We all showed up. Boch managed the game, we played the game … that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

The Giants are counting on Moore to help them get back to October. To recover from last year’s lengthy run — his first full season back from Tommy John — Moore pushed the start of his offseason throwing program back a month. Sunday’s outing was just the second time facing hitters this spring because rain messed with some of the coaching staff’s workout plans, but Moore said he feels strong. 

“We got him where we wanted,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He looked good.”

GAME RECAP: The ball was flying at Goodyear Ballpark Way Out In The Middle Of Nowhere and the Giants took full advantage. Conor Gillaspie, Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker homered in a 9-5 win over the Reds. The Giants are 3-0 in Cactus League play … Tyler Beede struck out one in two scoreless innings. Beede gave up two hits, but he finished his 2017 debut by getting a double-play ball … Jimmy Rollins scored twice while leading off … Albert Suarez made his debut, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings … Cincinnati’s pitching was mostly brutal, but former Giants prospects Luis Castillo and Keury Mella finished off the day with three scoreless innings. 

POSITION BATTLE: Parker had two hits and walked twice. His homer was a laser shot. “He smoked that one,” Bochy said. “I didn’t think it was going out, but he scalded it. It shows the kind of power he has.”

Mac Williamson had two hits, a walk, and two runs. He made a slick sliding catch for an out near the left field wall. The left field candidates are off to a good start. 

QUOTABLE: “It’s great. There are a lot more places to eat.” — Moore, on his first spring in Arizona. Moore is from New Mexico, so he’s happy with the switch from having camp in Florida.