Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kent calls it a career after 17 great seasons

I'll bet not many people thought they'd ever see a picture of Jeff Kent doing that.

After spending 17 seasons in Major League Baseball, Kent has decided to hang up his cleats for good. The decision was not a big surprise, as last season appeared to be all his body could finally handle.

First, let's discuss the Hall of Fame debate that keeps being brought up. In mind mind, it's a no brainer - the guy belongs in. He finished with 351 home runs as a 2nd baseman, which is 74 more than the 2nd place finisher, Ryne Sandberg, who's in the Hall.

For his career, he finishes with a .290 AVG, 560 2B, 377 HR, 1522 RBI. He also won the 2000 NL MVP, has been an All Star 5 times, and won 4 Silver Slugger awards.

Oh ya, and he didn't need steroids, HGH, or any of that other garbage to get the job done.

I know I might be a little biased, but come on now. He absolutely should be in the Hall! I know his personality was brash and hard to deal with for most of his career, but he played his butt of everyday he was in the lineup. He didn't have the greatest range for a 2nd baseman, but he'd dive after balls all over and make great plays despite his limitations. Don't let his personality overshadow his results.

As for his career with the Dodgers, he was often the lone power threat in the lineup. His best year was his first in 2005, where he hit .289 with 29 HR and 105 RBI. Last season was a bit of a letdown for him, as injuries were taking their toll. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was relegated to backup duty to Blake DeWitt. As a pinch-hitter, he was 0-9 with 4 K's, including a K in what turned out to be his last at-bat of his career.

I must say that he made the right decision with this. As much as I liked him, it was obvious that he was just worn out by the end of last year. I think Joe Torre added him to the postseason roster more out of an appreciation for his career, and not because he was healthy enough to do so. He deserves a proper press conference and send off, and he got it.

What I'll miss about Kent is his ability to leave it all on the field and to not take any crap from players dogging it and underachieving. I don't care if the media didn't like him, he was a winner and showed up each day to prove that. And for that, I should be making the hour-and-a-half trip to Cooperstown a few years from now to pay my respects to his great career.

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