No. 214 Jeff Kent (Number 18 Second Baseman)

I was never much of a Jeff Kent fan, but when Kent was on Survivor: Philippines I watch curious how the reaction to him was. He used a fake name which was smart and fair to me. Someone recognize him and he made a feeble attempt to lie, but soon said he was Jeff Kent and asked the other contestant not to spell the beans about him. She didn’t. I didn’t watch but according to the writeups Kent was involved with the intrigue of the show a lot until his elimination. He was always a competitor.

Ok, I just discovered I wrote about Jeff Kent before. Here is what I wrote:

In 2000 Jeff Kent won the league MVP when everybody I knew that his teammate Barry Bonds had a better season. I think the excuse was that Jeff Kent played 2nd base a more important defense position. However, WAR later gave further evidence that the Bonds people were probably right.

There were many reasons the writers could have voted for Bonds. The first is Bonds wasn’t the greatest guy around and the writers didn’t really like him. Also, Bonds was black, and Kent was white. I think sportswriters were generally not very racial oriented, but I can see this having a bearing on a close election. Also, Bonds already had 3 MVPs and Kent had one. Three was the record at the time and the writers didn’t want Barry to beat the record. Of course, that plan fell through when Barry had a year for the ages in 2001 and won the next 4 MVP awards.

Jeff Kent was on Survivor as a contestant under a different name. This was so no one would vote him off after recognizing him. However, there was a Giants fan or big baseball fan who recognized him early in the first episode. He recognized Kent. Kent denied it for about a minute then admitted he was Jeff Kent. He didn’t do badly considering everyone knew he was a famous athlete. They probably figured he could help him with the athletic events.  He came in 10th beating out 8 people. I only saw part of the first episode but I’m guessing he was as competitive as he was on the baseball field.

I obviously have done more research now. Jeff Kent never got along with Barry Bonds. They even had a fight in the dugout once. It never really bothered eithers performance. Both men were competitors and wanted to win on the field. Also having Dusty Baker as manager helped. He kept things at an even keel, which helped. I know a lot of people thought Baker was a great choice when hired by Houston, because he has an ability to keep things on an even keel. It was great to see him win the title last year.

One thing I noticed about Jeff Kent’s record is the number of walks he drew in 2000 his MVP year. He had a total of 90 which was a lot higher than his previous high of 61 the year before. Kent went from being good at taking a walk to excellent. He walked 13 percent of the time in 2000. This might have been part of a building process as he walked 10.4 percent of the time in 1999 his highest percentage. Drawing walks seemed to help the team more as he came withing 3 RBIs of his career high but scored 20 more runs than his previous high.

Imagine in 2000, with Bonds and Kent drawing over 200 walks between them. Kent had an on base percentage of .424 and Bonds had one of .440. Both must have faced a lot of pitches and that had to be tough on a pitcher to get by those two batters. With them on base so often, that left pitchers pitching a lot with a couple of men on base which is also tough.

However, the next year, 2001 Kent reverted back to his previous walk amounts and didn’t have as good of season. He still hit well, especially for a second baseman, but it wasn’t nearly like the year 2000. He increased his walk percentage when he joined the Dodgers in 2005. By then he was 37 and his bat was slowing down. He had two years in Los Angeles where he walked over 11 percent of his at bats.  

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