Jeff Kent: Mid Nineties One Time Mets Second Base Slugger (1992 - 1996)

Jeffrey Franklin Kent
was born on March 7, 1968, in Bellflower, California a suburb of Los Angeles. His father was a motorcycle cop who didn't stand for nonsense or small talk.

As a kid Kent was into motor cross & surfing, not watching baseball on TV because he later said it was too boring. His father did take him & his brother to baseball games.

Kent did play baseball in little league & in school. At high school Kent & his attitude problem caused a serious run in with his baseball coach which got him removed from the team. He attended the University of California at Berkley, playing for the Golden Bears.

The six foot one right hand hitter, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 20th round of the 1988 draft. He played three brief seasons in the minors, showing power hitting 16 HRs in 1990 at AA ball.

MLB Career: He got onto the Blue Jays Opening Day roster in 1992 debuting on April 12th getting his first career hit that day, a 6th inning double in a 3-1 win over the Orioles. Two days later he hit his first career HR off Lee Gutterman in a 12-6 win over the A.L. New York club. 

For the eventual World Champion Blue Jays, he played 65 games for Toronto hitting 8 HRs with 35 RBIs and batting .240, through the end of August. On August 27, 1992, Kent & Ryan Thompson were traded to the New York Mets in the trade for pitcher David Cone.

Mets Career: Kent debuted at Shea Stadium on August 28th in a double header sweep over the Cincinnati Reds. He went hitless in the first game, then in the second game had two hits & drove in three runs. Three days later he hit his first Mets HR, coming off the Braves Pete Smith while playing both ends of a losing double header against Atlanta.

Kent refused to be treated as rookie when arriving in New York, not participating in any hazing that went on to initiate rookies. He insisted his rookie status was left behind in Toronto.

Although he angered some of his teammates with those & many other actions, he did show class by moving over to short stop at the end of the season, allowing Willie Randolph to play his final career game at second base.

Never the Most Popular Guy- Anywhere: But in Kent's career he was never a popular player with fans or other baseball players, even his own teammates. Some knew him as having a giant ego, others said he was just not a nice guy. He was known to be very aloof with a terrible attitude. So was the drama & career of Jeff Kent.

In 37 games for the fifth place Mets, he would hit .239 with 3 HRs 8 doubles & 13 RBIs. Kent would become the Mets primary second baseman for the next three & a half losing seasons, through 1996.

1993: He started the season slow, hitting just .213 in April & having hit just two HRs through the month of May. He didn't hit for a high average & manager Jeff Torborg put him on the bench. Torborg was replaced by Dallas Green who put Kent back in the lineup. His power numbers & run production picked up in the summer months.

On June 29th, his 8th inning HR off the Marlins Bryan Harvey tied up the game, on their way to a 10-9 Met win. On July 6th, he broke up a 5-5 tie with the Padres, hitting an 8th inning HR off Tim Mauser. In the 9th John Franco gave up two more runs with Kent's HR making the difference in the 9-8 win.

Two days later he had another multi-RBI game, driving in three runs with three hits in a loss to the Dodgers. From July 17th through the 27th, Kent drove in runs in eight of ten games. On July 18th he had his first multi-HR game, hitting two in San Francisco in a 12-6 Met win. 

On July 27th he had another multi-HR game, hitting two HRs off the Marlins Pat Rapp driving in all four runs in the Mets 4-3 win. In the month he hit 6 HRs & drove in 19 runs while batting .323.

In late August Kent drove in nine runs in five games over an eight-game span. On August 21 & 22 he homered in back-to-back games at Colorado Coors Field. On August 28th his bottom of the 8th single tied up a game with the Reds. After Mike Maddux blew the lead, the Mets won it on wild pitch from Kevin Wicklander scoring the winning run. For August he batted .330 collecting 32 hits in 97 at bats.

 On September 10th, Kent drove in four runs in a 12-10 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Shea, he had three hits & hits a two run HR off Mike Morgan. 

Grand Slam HR: On September 26th, in a 9-3 win over the Expos, he hit a grand slam HR off Ken Hill in the 5th inning, driving in a season high five runs in a three-hit game.

Walk Off Hit: Three days later on September 29th, the Mets & Cardinals had an epic 17 inning
pitcher's duel. The Mets Bobby Jones pitched ten shutout innings, then Jeff Innis & Mauro Gozzo pitched three innings each, followed by one from Kenny Gear. 

In the bottom of the 17th. Kents walk off double off the St. Louis' pitcher Les Lancaster, won it for the Mets

In his first full season with the Mets, he hit 21 HRs with 80 RBIs both third on the club to Bobby Bonilla & Eddie Murray. Kent batted .270 with 134 hits 24 doubles, 65 runs scored & 17 multi-RBI games. He struck out 88 times walked 30 times posted a .320 on base % & a .765 OPS. 

At second base he led the league with his 18 errors.

Strike Shortened 1994:  On Opening Day he had four hits, including a three run HR at Wrigley Field helping the Mets to a 12-8 victory over the Cubs. He drove in a pair of runs in his first three games of the year.

Player of the Week Award: On April 11th he hit his second HR of the year, driving in three runs in a loss to the Cubs. The next day at Shea, he hit two HRs & drove in a season high five RBIs in a 10-9 Mets win. Kent homered in three straight games, as he hit another the next day in a loss to Houston. 

On April 17th he then hit two more HR, coming off the Astros Darryl Kile & Todd Jones, during in three of the Mets four runs in the 4-2 win. As the Mets went west to San Diego, he hit a HR in the series opened. From April 11th to April 18th, he hit 8 HRs driving in 17 runs earning him the Player of the Week Award.

Overall, he had a huge April with 8 HRs 26 RBIs, finishing the month batting .375 placing him amongst the tops in the N.L.

In May he remained hot, from May 25th thru May 29th, Kent drove in seven more runs going into the first week of June batting .323 with 11 HRs & 39 RBIs. In June he hit safely in 17 of 20 games but only hit 2 HRs & drove in 9 runs.

Grand Slam HR: After a HR drought that lasted a month, he finally connected on July 22nd at Shea Stadium. In the bottom of the 1st, he hit a grand slam HR off the Giants Bill Swift, leading the Mets to a 6-3 win. It was his second career grand slam & his 13th HR of the year. 

From July 17th to July 29th, he had 12 RBI's while driving in runs in eight of ten games.

That year the seasons ended in early August due to a baseball strike.

Kent finished as the team’s offensive leader, leading them in batting (.292) RBIs (68) hits (121) doubles (24) & triples (5). He hit 14 HRs with 121 hits walked 23 times struck out 84 times posted a 341 on base % & a .816 OPS. He helped the Mets climb out of the cellar to third place.

At second base he was terrible defensively once again making 14 errors in 107 games.

1995: As play finally resumed in late April, Kent started the new season struggling out of the gate. Although he hit five HRs in May he was batting just .202 in the middle of the month. 

In June he began to get hit, having eleven multi-hit games. In mid-month he drove in runs in four straight games. After a July 5th HR in a 5-4 Mets win at Wrigley Field, where Bobby Bonilla drove in the walk off run, Kent went down with an injury for the next three weeks.

When he returned, he hit safely in 17 of 19 games bringing his average up to just under .290. On July 25th he had a four-hit game, highlighted by a 2nd inning HR off the Cardinals Mike Morgan in a loss at St. Louis.

In September he hit just four HRs but drove in 21 runs, nine more than he had in any other month. On September 14th he had a multi-RBI game driving in a season high four runs in a 10-3 win at Atlanta. The next day he drove in two more runs in a 8-4 Mets win & had seven hits in the four-game set where the Mets took three of four from the eventual world champs. He finished the year out hitting safely in 20 of 25 games.

On the season Kent hit 20 HRs with 65 RBIs second best on the club to Rico Brogna. Kent hit .278 with 131 hits with 22 doubles 3 triples & 6 runs scored. He struck out 89 times walked 29 times, posted a .327 on base % & a .791 OPS.

The Mets finished second but were still under .500 with a 69-75 record under manager Dallas Green.

Drama in NY: Although his numbers were good, Kent was not a good fit in New York. Here he earned the reputation as being difficult in the club house & not getting along with teammates. He was very isolated keeping to himself while not participating with the team in off the field activities. 

He had a quick temper which presented a whole bunch of other issues with the large media presence in New York. The fans didn't like him much either making him very unpopular around Shea Stadium.

1996: The Mets had had enough of his poor attitude & they began to shop him throughout the season. By July he was hitting .290 with 9 HRs 20 doubles & 39 RBIs when he was traded along with Jose Vizcaino to the Cleveland Indians for Carlos Baerga. It looked like a good deal at the time, but this did not turn out to be a good deal for New York as Baerga bombed & Kent's production got better.

Mets Career: In his five-year career he played 498 Mets games batting .279 with 510 hits 98 doubles 10 triples 67 HRs 267 RBIs. He struck out 346 times walked 110 times posted a .327 on base % & .780 OPS.

Post Mets Career: Kent was out of Cleveland after the season ended, getting traded to San Francisco for Matt Williams. 

Giants Career: In San Francisco he became one of the game’s best run producers & power hitters of his era. In the next decade he would hit over .290 eight times, drive in over 100 runs eight times, hit 30 or more HRs three times & 40 or more doubles four times.

He would get elected to five All Star teams and win the 2000 NL MVP Award putting up 33 HRs 41 doubles 125 RBIs & bat a career high .334. Although teammate Barry Bonds had better numbers on the year, Kent was often intentionally walked as well.

He came up big in clutch situations & the fact that Barry Bonds was always on base ahead of him added to his RBI production. 

Kent was at his best in his career during his Giants years (1997-2002) batting behind Barry Bonds
& Playing for manager Dusty Baker. There he got to the post season three times, including a 2002 NL Pennant.

Drama: But Drama & controversy still surrounded him even at his best. His relationship with Barry Bonds was constantly filled with tension and came to a head in a dugout shoving match in 2002. 

During one injury he told the Giants he had broken his wrist while washing his truck, but reports said he was doing stunts on his motorcycle, which violated his contract. 

1997 Post Season:  He got to his first post season with the Giants in 1997. He hit two HRs in the NLDS loss to the eventual World Champion Florida Marlins.

In 1998 he won the August Player of the Month award after returning from an injury. That year the Giants lost a one game playoff to the Cubs. He batted. 297 with 31 HRs & 128 RBIs. In 1999 Kent he was the Giants only player to make the All-Star team & also hit for the cycle that May. That year he drove in a career high 128 runs batting .297 with 31 HRs.

In 2000 the Giants began play in their new ballpark - Pac Bell Stadium. Kent hit 33 HRs with a career best 1.021 OPS. He drove in over 100 runs (125) for the fourth straight season, joining Giants legends Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Irish Meusel & George High Pockets Kelly, all New York Giants in accomplishing that feat.

2000 NLDS:  The Giants won the West, & in the NLDS against his old Mets team, he batted .375 (6-16) but drove in just one run in the four-game series loss to the NL Champion Mets.

2002 Post Season: In 2002 his Giants won the NL pennant, in the NLDS win over Atlanta he drove in a run in the Game # 3, batting .263 in the series. 

In the NLCS win over the Cardinals he didn't fare much better, hitting .263 with no HRs or any RBIs.

2002 World Series: Kent woke up hitting 3 HRs with 7 RBIs batting .276 (8-29). In Game #5 at Pac Bell Park, he hit two HRs off the Angels Ben Webber & Scott Shields in the Giants 16-4 victory giving the m three games to two lead. They would lose the next two games in Anaheim.

Astros Career: After six years left the team for free agency going to Houston after Dusty Baker was gone as manager. He spent two seasons in Houston putting up good numbers. In 2003 he batted .297 hit 22 HRs with 93 RBIs breaking his stretch of six straight seasons with over 100+ RBIs. He followed up with another 100+ RBI season (107) hitting 27 HRs batting .289 for the 2004 wild card Astros.

2004 Post Season: In the 2004 NLDS win over Atlanta he drove in three runs. In the NLCS loss
to the Cardinals he hit a one of four Astros HRs in the Game #1 loss. He returned to hit another in the bottom of the 1st of Game #3 in another Giants loss. 

Walk Off HR: In Game #5, he hit a 9th inning walk off three run HR off Jason Isringhausen in what was a scoreless game, leading the Giants to a 3-0 win, giving Houston a three game to two lead in the series. They would lose the next two games. Overall, he drove in seven runs in that series & hit .236.

Dodgers Career: In 2004 he signed a four-year deal to play in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. His first season there was his best batting .289 with 29 HRs 36 doubles & 105 RBIs (8th in the league).

Now in his late thirties he began to slow down, having his last good year in 2006 hitting .302 with 20 HRs & 79 RBIs.

2006 NLDS: Kent made two more post seasons with the Dodgers. In the 2nd inning of Game #1 at Shea Stadium, Kent attempted to score on a fly ball that went over Shaw Greens head. Green threw to cut off man Jose Valentin who fired home, Kent was tagged out by catcher Paul LoDuca. JD Drew was right behind Kent trying to score as well but LoDuca out the tag on him too for a strange double play. 

Kent had a big series batting .615 (8-13) with a HR off Darren Oliver in the Game #3 loss at LA. The Mets swept the series in three.

Kent played two more season making another post season in 2008. In the post season he was 0-9. He played his final career game in the 2008 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies. He played in seven post season Series batting .276 overall with 9 HRs 23 RBIs 11 doubles in 49 games.

Career Highlights:  In his 17-season career he played in five All Star Games & won the 2000 NL MVP Award. Unfortunately, he is remembered as one of the most unpopular players during his time. To his credit he did have some difficult teammates as well. He also played in the shadows of Bobby Bonilla in New York & Barry Bonds in San Francisco during his historic time. 

No Hall of Fame: After a decade of being on the Hall of Fame ballot he has not been inducted. After 2023's denial, he said that the HOF voting is a joke. Kent certainly has a point as players with a less production numbers have been elected for the wrong reasons. Although defensively he was a poor second baseman which hurts his cause as well.

Career Stats: Kent retired as the all-time HR leader among second baseman with 377 (77th all time overall).

Kent had 2161 hits (111th all time) 1518 RBIs (54th all time) 560 doubles (30th all time) 1320 runs scored (121st all time) 103 sac flies (25th all time) & 125 hit by pitches (48th all time). 

He played in 2298 games played (115th all time). 
Kent struck out 1522 times (62nd all time) & drew 801 walks.

Defensively at second base, he led the league in errors four times making 194 in his career (67th all) posting a .980 %.

At second base he played 2034 games played (12th most all time). He made 4016 put outs (19th all time) with 1261 double plays turned (13th all time). 

Retirement & TV: In 2009 he appeared on the TV series Superstars & teamed up with actress Ali Landry. In 2012 he was a contestant on Survivor: Philippines. He came the 9th contestant voted off.

He commented the $1 million dollar prize would only be worth $600,000 after then president obama takes it. Kent has also donated $15,000 to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California. 
Kent is an advocate for MLB testing for HGH. These are probably more reasons people discriminate against his election to the Hall of Fame, no doubt.

Charity: In 2014, Kent announced the creation of the Jeff Kent Women Driven Scholarship Endowment to provide a full scholarship each year to one female student-athlete at UC Berkeley in perpetuity.

He has served as a Giants Spring Training instructor & donated time a Southwestern University coaching baseball.

Family: Jeff & his wife Dana have four children. They live near the Austin, Texas area.


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