After more than half a century in Major League Baseball, Dusty Baker has been around his fair share of Hall of Famers. He's played with them and against them, plus he's coached and managed more than a few of them as well. As one of MLB's winningest managers, he'll likely be inducted into Cooperstown someday as well.
So when the Houston Astros manager says a player should be in the Hall of Fame, he probably knows what he's talking about.
Jeff Kent Hall of Fame
Jeff Kent is not in the Hall of Fame, but he should be. Baker certainly thinks so, and the numbers back him up.
Kent was denied a plaque in Cooperstown once again on Tuesday, however, falling short in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. His name appeared on 46.5% of submitted ballots -- well below the 75% needed for induction. Kent's candidacy now lies in the hands of the Hall's Eras Committees, which meet every year to review and vote on a handful of players from different time periods. In the meantime, Kent can only wait.
He shouldn't have to. Kent did more than enough during his 17-year career to merit a place in Cooperstown. His best seasons came with Baker's San Francisco Giants during the late 1990s and early 2000s, when he beat out teammate Barry Bonds for the NL MVP Award in 2000 and helped the Giants reach the World Series in 2002.
Kent's other highlights include four Silver Sluggers and five All-Star selections as one of the best-hitting second basemen in baseball history. In addition to being the all-time leader in home runs at the position, he also finished his career with impressive offensive numbers such as 560 doubles, 2,461 hits, 1,518 RBIs and an .855 OPS.
Kent had the misfortune of being overshadowed by Bonds during his time in San Francisco. He played during the heart of the steroid era, so his power numbers often paled in comparison to those of Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and others. He also wasn't particularly well-liked and changed teams often throughout his career, suiting up for six different clubs.
No ballplayer is perfect, however, not even in the halls of Cooperstown. Kent belongs there, and Baker isn't the only one who thinks so.