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Jeffrey Franklin Kent (born March 7, 1968 in Bellflowermarker, Californiamarker) is a retired Major League Baseball second baseman. Kent won the National League Most Valuable Player award in with the San Francisco Giants, and is the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen. He drove in 90 or more runs from to , a streak of run production unprecedented for a second baseman, a position typically known for its defense. Kent is a five-time All-Star and his 560 career doubles put him tied for 21th on the all-time doubles list.

Baseball career

Early years

Kent played at Berkeleymarker prior to being drafted in the 20th round of the amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to attending college, Kent had also had a serious run-in with his Edison High Schoolmarker baseball coach; he was removed from the team as a result.

After four seasons in the minor leagues, Kent was invited to spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays in and made the opening day roster. He made his debut on April 12 against the Baltimore Orioles and recorded his first career hit (a double) in the 6th inning against Jose Mesa. He hit his first home run on April 14 against New York Yankees pitcher Lee Guetterman. He saw limited at-bats early in the season; however, an injury to starting third baseman Kelly Gruber granted Kent a more regular role in the line-up.

He was traded to the Mets for pitcher David Cone.

New York Mets

Kent's time with the Mets was marked with some success and some failure. Although he batted well, particularly for a second baseman, the Mets were among the worst teams in the National League. Furthermore, he acquired a very poor reputation in the clubhouse, where he was known for a quick temper and isolationism. He refused to participate in his hazing ritual with the Mets, feeling he had left his rookie status back in Toronto. During the 1992 season, he started the only game of his career at shortstop in order to allow Willie Randolph to play his final career game at second base.

Cleveland Indians

In a deal made prior to the trade deadline, the Mets infamously sent Kent and Jose Vizcaino to the Cleveland Indians for Álvaro Espinoza and Carlos Baerga. The following offseason, Kent was again traded, this time to the San Francisco Giants. The San Francisco trade was initially very unpopular, as it sent Matt Williams, a longtime Giant and a fan-favorite, to the Indians. Brian Sabean, in his first year as general manager of the Giants, was so widely criticized for the move that he famously defended himself to the media by saying, "I am not an idiot."

San Francisco Giants

Kent's career took off in San Francisco, starting in . Immediately inserted in the line-up behind superstar Barry Bonds, and with the confidence of manager Dusty Baker, Kent finally rose to his full potential, hitting .250 with 29 home runs and 121 RBI. He was consistently among the top RBI hitters in the league over his next five seasons with the Giants, amassing 689 RBI over six years while driving in Bonds who was constantly on base, an unprecedented amount for a second baseman. He also won the Willie Mac Award for his spirit and leadership.

Kent's contributions were recognized in (33 HR, 125 RBI, .334 BA, and a .986 fielding percentage) with the National League MVP Award, beating out teammate and perennial MVP candidate Barry Bonds. Despite the fact that Bonds overshadowed Kent in almost every offensive category, it was Kent's clutch hitting in RBI spots (particularly after an intentional walk to Bonds) that won many games for the Giants that year, and ultimately won him the award. The Giants finished first in the NL West at 97–65, but lost to the Mets in the National League Division Series 3-games-to-1.

In , Kent had another stellar year for a second baseman (37 HR, 108 RBI, .313 BA, and a .978 fielding percentage). The combination of Kent and MVP-winner Bonds propelled the Giants to a 95-66 record, good enough for the NL Wild Card. The Giants would beat the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series 3–2, and the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series 4–1. In the World Series for the first time since , the Giants would nearly clinch the championship before falling to the Anaheim Angels.

Despite the team's success that season, Kent's relationship with the Giants had soured. The Giants front office had lost confidence in Kent after an incident during spring training left him with a broken wrist. Kent had initially claimed that the wrist was broken while washing his truck; ensuing media reports indicated that Kent had crashed his motorcycle while performing wheelies and other stunts, in direct violation of his contract.

In addition, growing tension had developed between Kent and Bonds: a midseason shoving match in the Giants dugout was widely reported in 2002. The departure of manager Dusty Baker also factored into Kent's eventual decision to leave the Giants. Kent signed a two-year, $19.9 million deal with the Houston Astros, citing his desire to be closer to his family's Texasmarker ranch.

Houston Astros

On October 2, , Kent hit his 288th home run as a second baseman, surpassing Ryne Sandberg as the all-time home run leader at that position.

In possibly his finest moment as an Astro, Kent hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in Game 5 of the 2004 National League Championship Series to put Houston ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 in the series. However, the Cardinals would win games 6 and 7 in St. Louis to capture the pennant.

Los Angeles Dodgers

On December 14, 2004, he signed a $21 million contract for 3 years with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kent had a good season, leading the Dodgers in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBI with (.289, .377, .512, 100, 160, 36, 29, and 105 respectively) [47576] This was the best year by a Dodger second baseman since Jackie Robinson. However, Kent was again involved in controversy during his first year with the Dodgers in 2005, when former teammate Milton Bradley[47577] accused him of being a racist.

While missing games early on in the season because of an oblique injury[47578] he came back late in the season and helped the Dodgers reach the postseason.

He has recently suggested that Major League Baseball submit blood tests in order to test for HGH, and has been one of the more vocal supporters of stronger tests for HGH and other performance-enhancing drugs. After the 2005 season, Kent signed an extension that would take him to the season and possibly the rest of his career.[47579]

After an injury marred 2008 season, Kent announced his retirement from baseball on January 22, 2009.

Life after retirement

Jeff Kent appeared as a contestant on the Summer 2009 television series Superstars, where he was teamed with actress Ali Landry in a series of sports competitions. They finished in fifth place in the competition.

Accomplishments

  • 5-time All-Star (1999-2001, 2004-05)
  • 4-time Silver Slugger (2000-2002, 2005)
  • National League MVP (2000)
  • Finished 6th in National League MVP voting (2002)
  • Finished 8th in National League MVP voting (1997)
  • Finished 9th in National League MVP voting (1998)
  • Finished Top-5 in RBIs (1997, 1998, 2000, 2002)
  • All-time leader in home runs as a second baseman (351)
  • Only second baseman to have 100 or more RBIs in 6 consecutive seasons (1997-2002)
  • Hit for the cycle ( )


See also



References

  1. Jeff Kent: his numbers will earn him hall of fame consideration
  2. Kent taking his place among all-time greats
  3. 2007 Career Highlights, MLB Bio
  4. Baseball-reference.com Jeff Kent career stats
  5. Baseball-reference.com 2000 SF Giants
  6. Baseball-reference.com 2002 SF Giants
  7. Schulman, Henry. "Story should not have laugh track", San Francisco Chronicle, 26 March 2002, pp C1.
  8. Schulman, Henry. "Giants now battling each other", San Francisco Chronicle, 26 June 2002, pp C1.
  9. Second Baseman Jeff Kent retires after 17 major league seasons
  10. Baseball Awards Voting for 2000 - Baseball-Reference.com
  11. Baseball Awards Voting for 2002 - Baseball-Reference.com
  12. Baseball Awards Voting for 1997 - Baseball-Reference.com
  13. Baseball Awards Voting for 1998 - Baseball-Reference.com
  14. Ex-NL MVP Jeff Kent to announce retirement at 40 (AP), Jan. 21, 2009


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