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Two years ago, I looked at Jeff Kent, Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio in two pieces- Part 1 and Part 2. Since then, Alomar has retired while Kent and Biggio have wrestled Old Man Time to a draw. Let's see whether I said anything really dumb, and where they stand now.


Jeff Kent

Two years ago, I said of Kent:

"Overall, I would rate Kent as a B+ defensive second baseman. Alomar would be a C+ defensive second baseman, and Biggio a C defensive second baseman.

So, should Jeff Kent be in Hall of Fame? Will he? His performance has been quite comparable with Doyle and Grich to date, and he may have 2 or 3 seasons left. That means, for me, he should clearly be in now, even if his career ended tomorrow. As for his chances, that is more difficult. It is likely that Roberto Alomar will be seen as the greatest second baseman of the 90s thanks to his Gold Gloves, and the 3000 hits heís likely to have when he finishes. If the past is an indicator, that means Alomar gets the baseball writerís vote, and Kentís election will depend on the Veteransí Committee. Iíd guess that Biggio will get more support from the BBWAA than Kent, and later the Veteransí Committee, and that Kent will be out. Now, if he were to find his way onto a champion, and contribute mightily over the next couple of years, the calculus might be different."

Kent had great age 37 and age 38 seasons in 2005-06, essentially hitting at his superb career norms, while playing 271 games. He is still an adequate second baseman, and has now played 1785 games at the position. He now has hit 345 homers. There has never been a second baseman with anything like this total. The most comparable hitters to him, according to BBRef.com, are (drum roll please for last week's contestants):

Player AB HR W K SB CS BA OBP SLUG OPS+
Kent 7564 345 719 1409 93 56 .289 .356 .504 126
Burks 7199 351 790 1332 179 84 .292 .364 .511 126
Parker 8246 307 609 1337 147 103 .293 .343 .479 124
Berra 7546 348 704 411 30 26 .285 .348 .483 125

Congratulations, Sheldon, on naming Berra as a comparable to Kent. Berra is a pretty comparable hitter, bearing in mind the differences between the American League of the 50s, and the current National League. Berra also played a key defensive position well, and in fact had more defensive value than Kent.

At this point, Kent has had as good a career as Bobby Grich with the bat, and is modestly behind him with the glove. I now think that his chances are a little above 50% (it obviously would have helped if he had led the Dodgers to the World Series this year). With Grich, there was no one number that might persuade the voters that he was qualified. With Kent, the homer total as a second baseman might be the ticket.

Roberto Alomar

Two years ago, I made the obvious prediction that Roberto Alomar would end up with 3,000 hits and Craig Biggio would end up with 2,700-2,800. Wrong-o. I said:

"Should Roberto be in the Hall of Fame? Will he? In my view, though he has not been as good offensively or defensively as Kent, Alomar should be a Hall of Famer, due to the quality and length of his offensive prime. He has been one of the top 20 second baseman of the 20th century, and that should be good enough. I figure that two second baseman per decade is a reasonable average. Alomar will definitely go to the Hall- his hit total, his Gold Gloves and his playoff performance in my view, pretty much guarantee that; I just cannot see a second baseman who has won 11 Gold Gloves and has 3,000 hits not being there."

I still think that Alomar should be inducted, and that he will, notwithstanding his failure to reach the 3,000 hit plateau. He was a great hitter for a second baseman, with a great defensive reputation. I don't think that he was better than Lou Whitaker, but that is a very high standard.

Craig Biggio

In 2004, Biggio was an outfielder for the Astros, while Jeff Kent played second base. I said at the time:

"Should Craig Biggio be in the Hall of Fame? Will he? Biggio has played longer than Lou Whitaker with about the same level of offensive performance, and as long as Frankie Frisch with better performance. He was for several years the best leadoff hitter in the game and a fine second baseman. Overall, though, his defence was not up to their level, in my view, and I make him a marginal Hall of Famer.. On the other hand, I expect that he will eventually make it. He should finish up with 2700-2800 hits, four Gold Gloves, and a name (as one of the Killer Bs)."

Kent left Houston after 2004, and Biggio returned to second base. He gave them a very good year in 2005, and a below par one in 2006 at age 40. His six most comparable players according to BBRef are now in order: Joe Morgan, Paul Molitor, Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson, George Brett and Rickey Henderson. It is hard to imagine a single player having such a disparate group of comparables, with the only real common element being longevity. I am pretty sure that he will make it, and I am now convinced that he deserves it handily.

Maybe, all will end up right with the world in a decade or three. Morgan, Carew, Grich, Sandberg, Whitaker, Kent, Alomar and Biggio will all be in the Hall of Fame as the second basemen of the period 1965-2005. Eight second basemen for four decades is exactly right, and those should be the men.

Next up: Miguel Tejada and an update on the shortstops I looked at in 2004 . If you can name one of Julio Franco's two most comparable hitters according to BBRef.com, without peeking, you will receive something much more enduring than a convocation of cuttlefish- your name in bold on the world wide web.
Hall Watch 2006 Update- The Second Basemen | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
daryn - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 08:31 AM EST (#157531) #

I have to say I'm completely surprised at Alomar. I had to go look up his numbers to be certain.

But its true, he really didn't have the success that I attribute to him, except for a couple of years...

daryn - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 08:39 AM EST (#157532) #

sometimes it scares me to re-read my own posts.. I tried to simplify and made a mess of it.

What I meant was, when I saw the rating of C+ for Roberto's glove, I was surprised, so I hunted around his stats to try to see why, and it kind of makes sense, mostly because his average years were quite below his best years....

then I reviewed his batter, and he had a LOT of years with HR's in the 10-15 range, and 60RBI, which really shocked me... though he did steal 50 quite a bit.

I guess here in Toronto we really saw the best of him... which I knew, but I am still shocked to see the results.... I think of him as possibly the most talented fielder/batter to ever wear the uniform, but the numbers seem to come up a little short..

now I wonder if he really IS an HoF-er.

Smithers - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 10:45 AM EST (#157538) #
Hmm, comparables for Julio Franco?  The first name that popped into my head was Minnie Minoso.  Who else is BBRef going to use as the most similar by age?


Mike Green - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 11:38 AM EST (#157542) #
OK, I will have to clarify.  I mean "most similar to Julio Franco over career, not by age". 
John Northey - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 01:21 PM EST (#157549) #
Wow, had to check Julio's most similar and for the first time ever I saw a 0 on the top 10 list by age.  I'm sure there are others with that, but wow, 2 guys on his top 10 by age for 47 had a 0 similarity score.  Guess the problem is there are few who last that long.  His #1 by age lasted (sort of, 1 game 4 AB's after age 42) to age 53, his #2 lasted to age 54 but played just 5 games with 10 AB"s (1 hit at 50) after age 38.  One guy played just 1 game after age 30, and he did it at age 51 going 1 for 1 and he actually scored a run too.  Shame BR doesn't list leaders by age past 43 - it would be interesting to see what the record for AB's in a season is for guys Franco's age.
Smithers - Monday, November 06 2006 @ 07:48 PM EST (#157557) #
Regarding Roberto Alomar's career, I think that he will and should still get into the Hall of Fame.  His shiny accomplishments such as 12 all star appearances, 10 gold gloves, and a .300 batting average will nicely adorn his plaque in Cooperstown.  But he also fulfills an important characteristic of a Hall of Famer in being one of the games true elite over a 10 year period - basically the entire 90's. 

Let's hope the enduring image from his career is the home run off the previously indomitable Dennis Eckersley in the 1992 ALCS (Eck won both the Cy and MVP that year), and not the infamous spitting incident later in his career.  That home run and his reaction put the franchise over the hump for good, and we all knew it.  My bet is he'll be the first player to go in with a Toronto Blue Jays hat, hopefully followed later by Carlos Delgado. 

And regarding Julio Franco, it would be interesting to see an age comparison across different sports in relation to playing well into the late 40's.  People like Gordie Howe or George Blanda or Morten Anderson.  Not really the Minnie Minoso comebacks, but the consistent grandpas of sports.
CaramonLS - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 09:19 AM EST (#157567) #
"Should Roberto be in the Hall of Fame? Will he? In my view, though he has not been as good offensively or defensively as Kent, Alomar should be a Hall of Famer, due to the quality and length of his offensive prime."

We're talking about the same Roberto Alomar here, right?
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 10:04 AM EST (#157568) #
That is a quote from two years ago.  I went over the defensive comparison at that point.  To summarize, Alomar made the spectacular play but overall his range was very good and he was way below average on the double play.  He would bail out.  Both Hill and Hudson are significantly better defensive players, in my view, as is Kent, thanks to their superior ability to turn the DP.

As for offence, Kent's career OPS+ is 126; Alomar's is 116.  In Alomar's 3 best years (1993, 1999 and 2001), he got on base a little more often than Kent did in his 3 best (1998, 2000 and 2002) relative to park-adjusted league averages, he was much faster, and he had significantly less power.  The OPS+ does overstate Kent's advantage over Alomar, but it is real. 

Alomar's main advantage over Kent is that despite his early retirement, he still has played over 2 seasons more than Kent due to his early start.  Kent may very well catch him in this regard too.  Alomar was the hare; Kent is the tortoise.

ayjackson - Tuesday, November 07 2006 @ 10:36 AM EST (#157571) #

and what a hare!!!!!

In honour of the greatest second baseman of the past thirty years, I spit on Jeff Kent!

Chuck - Friday, November 10 2006 @ 10:29 AM EST (#157730) #
Alomar's main advantage over Kent is that despite his early retirement, he still has played over 2 seasons more than Kent due to his early start.  Kent may very well catch him in this regard too.  Alomar was the hare; Kent is the tortoise.

I guess there are really two separate debates. Who should go into the HoF, in a perfect world? Who will go into the HoF, in the less-than-perfect world we live in?

The former, to me, is far more interesting. And that's clearly the tone of what is being argued in these parts.

That said, the latter allows for a different sort of analysis, the type that yields Bill James' HoF predictive metrics, modeling on who has gone in in the past.

I imagine that defensive reps will matter far more to the BBWAA than a survey of any the defensive metrics at their disposal. So Alomar, with his many gold gloves and highlight reel plays, will be considered a modern day Mazeroski, or at least not too far off. The not exactly flashy Kent, on the other hand, will be considered a defensive sinkhole. With those as the starting points in the evaluation of these two players, I believe that the voters will have no trouble adding Alomar's offense to the equation and easily voting him in (unless his phlegm hurling haunts him). And if they vote Kent in, it will be only after they have talked themselves into accepting that his offense more than makes up for his defense.


Mike Green - Friday, November 10 2006 @ 11:11 AM EST (#157733) #
I agree.  For what it's worth, the HOF Standards and Monitor modelling devices have Kent as a borderline choice. He adds to his score each year due to his impressive career offensive totals.
Hall Watch 2006 Update- The Second Basemen | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.