A Stat That May Or May Not Exist To Judge Jeff Kent, Among Others
As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m no stat geek, but the talk about Jeff Kent’s numbers being such that he should be a no doubt Hall of Famer have got me to wondering if some enterprising nerd could come up with a way to determine whether Barry Bonds’s presence as a lineup bodyguard for Kent gave him such an advantage that there would be a reason to question his qualifications had he not had Bonds in the same lineup for six seasons.
The recent vitriol launched at Jim Rice and Andre Dawson and the prevailing feeling among stat guys who insist that neither player belongs in the Hall of Fame makes me wonder what would happen if things were turned the opposite way with a player that they support like Kent. If Rice’s home/road splits and the number of outs he made are enough of a reason to keep him out; and if Dawson’s .323 career on base percentage is the yoke around his neck, then what happens if a number is formulated to judge Kent during the Giants years without Bonds and it’s determined that he no longer cuts it?
What if those numbers are adjusted and they wind up closer to Lou Whitaker instead of Ryne Sandberg? Would Kent then be a “no doubt” Hall of Famer? Whitaker has legitimate HOF credentials, but was absurdly only on the ballot for one year in which he received less than 3% of the vote and was eliminated from subsequent ballots. What would’ve happened with Whitaker’s numbers had he been in a lineup with Barry Bonds for six years of his career? There may already be a stat to account for this, but if there is, no one seems to be using it to support Kent’s candidacy.
The stat could be called something like Numbers In A Lineup Containing A Lesser Player, or NIAL-CALP. (That’s pretty clunky, but you get the idea.) Digging up statistics and formulating algorithms isn’t my bag, but if anyone’s looking for a true way to judge Jeff Kent’s career and put the argument to rest one way or the other, then that’s the way to do it, because to me, if there wasn’t a Barry Bonds next to Kent in the lineup, Kent might’ve wound up in Hall of Fame limbo with Whitaker, or worse.