Cooperstown

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.

Krukow 'stunned, overwhelmed' as Ford C. Frick Award finalist

Krukow 'stunned, overwhelmed' as Ford C. Frick Award finalist

Giants color commentator Mike Krukow was named one of eight finalists for the 2017 Ford C. Frick Award on Monday.

The Baseball Hall of Fame recognizes the award as someone who symbolizes "commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers." Krukow was in awe Monday of the honor as he paid homage to his Giants partners.

"I’m kind of stunned,” Krukow told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m the fourth-best guy on our broadcast team and here I am getting nominated for the Hall of Fame. It’s kind of unbelievable, honestly.”

This is not Krukow's first year on the ballot. He was nominated for the award in 2013, along with television partner Duane Kuiper. Neither had seen their names on the list since, until Krukow on Monday. 

“I’m overwhelmed,” Krukow said. “I thought when Kuip was nominated the last time, I thought it would be a progression and he would be nominated again and again."

Another one of Krukow's partners, Jon Miller, won the award in 2010. Giants broadcasters Russ Hodges (1980) and Lon Simmons (2004) were also honored with the award.

The 64-year-old Krukow has spent 26 years as a Giants broadcaster. His 14-year career as a major league pitcher ended with the Giants after the 1989 season. Krukow spent seven seasons with the Giants, and was named and All-Star with the team in 1986. 

The other seven finalists for the award are Bill King, Gary Cohen, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Pat Hughes, Ned Martin and Dewayne Staats. The winner will be crowned on Dec. 7 during the Baseball Winter Meetings.