Let’s play blind resumé! I’m going to show you three players’ career numbers and you tell me which one you think is most deserving of Hall of Fame recognition. Each of these players spent most of their careers playing at second base, and each of them is either up for Hall of Fame consideration or is already in the Hall of Fame. I will also provide their best five-year spans. Hopefully, by providing both their career numbers and their best five-year stretches, it will offer a better understanding of each players’ consistency and peak. With that said, here are the players.
Career: .285/.344/.452; .795 OPS; 114 OPS+; 282 home runs; 761 XBH; 1.66 K:BB ratio; 344 SB; 57 Fielding Runs Saved Above Average at 2B
5-year peak: .300/.364/.497; .862 OPS; 135 OPS+; 131 home runs; 288 XBH; 1.31 K:BB ratio; 88 SB; 12 Fielding Runs Above Average at 2B
Career: .290/.356/.500; .856 OPS; 123 OPS+; 377 home runs; 984 XBH; 1.9 K:BB ratio; 94 SB; 0 Fielding Runs Saved Above Average at 2B
5-year peak: .307/.378/.548; .926 OPS; 142 OPS+; 146 home runs; 375 XBH; 1.66 K:BB ratio; 46 SB; 4 Fielding Runs Saved Above Average at 2B
Career: .275/.358/.465; .823 OPS; 117 OPS+; 259 home runs; 728 XBH; 1.65 K:BB ratio; 154 SB; 5 Fielding Runs Saved Above Average at 2B
5-year peak: .301/.388/.535; .922 OPS; 135 OPS+; 146 home runs; 265 XBH; 1.58 K:BB ratio; 77 SB; 46 Fielding Runs Saved Above Average at 2B
Who would you choose? Player A was the most consistent defensively. He was a great base stealer and his five-year peak isn’t too far removed from his career numbers. Player B is clearly the best offensively. He’s got the best offensive numbers in nearly every category for his career and his five-year peak, but he was only average as a defender at second base. Player C had arguably the best peak, although the offensive numbers weren’t quite up to par with that of Player B. Player C was far better defensively at his peak than either Player A or B though.
So, who are they?
Player A is Ryne Sandberg: 1984 NL MVP, seven-time Silver Slugger, 10-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove winner, 2005 Hall of Fame inductee
Player B is Jeff Kent: 2000 NL MVP, four-time Silver Slugger, five-time All-Star, received 32.4 percent of votes on the 2021 Hall of Fame ballot
Player C is Chase Utley: 2008 World Series Champ, four-time Silver Slugger, six-time All-Star, will likely make the Hall of Fame when eligible
Sure, he was never as great defensively as his contemporaries, but Kent is arguably the greatest offensive second baseman of all-time. During an era where PED usage was running rampant through Major League Baseball, Kent was one of the most outspoken critics of players using steroids. There’s practically nothing against this guy.