Giants

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.

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

Five mistakes that will haunt Giants after 77th loss of 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants were in a different situation, Tuesday night’s loss was the kind that really would sting for a few days. As is, it was simply loss No. 77 in a stunningly bad season. 

The Giants went down 4-3 in somewhat familiar fashion, with their offense failing to break through and their bullpen coming up short. But this loss, No. 77, was also about small mistakes, both mental and physical. Let’s count down some of the ways the Giants went down:

--- Gorkys Hernandez, a late addition to the lineup because Hunter Pence has a tight hamstring, dropped a fly ball in deep right in the fourth inning. That cost Jeff Samardzija a run and a few more pitches. Bruce Bochy said Pence likely will be off Wednesday and then return Friday in Arizona. 

--- Bochy pulled Samardzija after just 89 pitches, and it was certainly peculiar in the moment. The thing is, the intention fit in with the reality of this season. Samardzija has carried a heavy load and Bochy was trying to protect his arm a bit. 

“The inning before, he logged some pitches,” Bochy said. “I’ve worked him pretty hard and I’m really looking after him as much as anything. We’re trying to give some guys a break and it didn’t work out. We had some guys lined up in the seventh, eighth, ninth — it just didn’t work out in the seventh.”

--- You can’t really argue with protecting a big-money pitcher in a down year. But Bochy probably wishes he had chosen someone other than Albert Suarez, who was fresher than others but has now given up runs in six of seven appearances. Suarez turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit. It was more glaring when Kyle Crick entered and pitched 1 1/3 sharp innings. 

--- The Giants still had a chance — it helped that the Brewers took a dominant Josh Hader out of the game just because he’s a lefty and Nick Hundley bats right-handed — and they put two on in the eighth. Denard Span hit a soft single to right and Phil Nevin waved Hundley, who has catcher’s legs. He was out by a mile. Bochy said he was fine with forcing the issue there, although that’s a call Nevin probably wants back. 

Another twist on the play: Bochy could have put speedy Orlando Calixte in for Hundley and then moved Pablo Sandoval over to first in the next inning, with Calixte at third. He didn’t second-guess that decision.

“He was out pretty easily,” Bochy said. “I don’t know if a little more speed would have helped out.”

--- In the bottom of the ninth, Kelby Tomlinson singled. He was promptly caught stealing second with the heart of the order coming up. Again, a decision that went the visiting team’s way. 

Those moments could be defended or second-guessed. On another night, maybe they all work out and the Giants win 3-2, or 6-4. On this night, it was simply a familiar script, and loss No. 77.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-3 loss to Brewers

bochy-suarez-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 4-3 loss to Brewers

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Just when it seemed the Giants were starting to find some continuity in their bullpen, they have taken a couple of steps back. 

Two days after Hunter Strickland imploded late, Albert Suarez gave up the lead. The Giants lost 4-3 to the Brewers in a game that dragged. The Brewers did open the window a bit in the bottom of the eighth and Denard Span bounced a single to right with two outs and two on. Phil Nevin waved Nick Hundley all the way around third and Hundley was thrown out by 10 feet to end the inning. 

Anyway, here are five other things to know … 

—- Just one of Jeff Samardzija’s six innings went 1-2-3, and Bruce Bochy turned to the bullpen after just 89 pitches. Samardzija was charged with two runs, one of them earned. It was a little odd that he came out so early. 

—- Suarez entered in the seventh with a one-run lead and gave up two runs before being lifted. He has allowed a run in six of his last seven appearances. 

—- Brandon Crawford momentarily gave the Giants the lead with a two-run homer, his 11th. He is definitely starting to hit his stride. Crawford has four extra base hits and six RBI on the homestand. 

—- Why is it so hard for the Giants to sign power bats? Well, just ask Eric Thames. He hit a 433-foot blast to lead off the third but ended up with just a triple when it bounced off the top of the bricks in right-center. Per Statcast data, Thames is the first player in the last three years to hit a ball more than 430 feet and not get a homer. He was stranded at third. 

—- Over in Sacramento, a couple of rehab appearances went as planned. Johnny Cueto threw three scoreless innings for the River Cats; he will make at least one more minor league start. Joe Panik was 0-for-2 in five innings; he will join the San Jose Giants on Wednesday for another rehab game.