clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CGB Hall of Fame: JJ Arrington vs Jeff Kent

Two of Cal's greatest square off in a first round matchup in the CGB Hall of Fame voting! The winner will do battle with Ashley Walker in the second round.

Voting ends at noon on Friday. Make your decision after reading the case for each after the jump. Also vote for Barbour v. Ortega and Nickerson v. The Play players.

Here's the only highlight film of JJ I could find. Nice tackling Ducks.

Back when they were still in this business, Tightwad Hill ranked Arrington the 10th greatest Golden Bear football player...ever.

Cal fans were understandably anxious to see what Arrington would do carrying the full workload in 2004. What he did was have the greatest season by any player in the history of Cal football. That's right. The greatest season ever.

In each of his 12 games, Arrington hit for at least 100 yards - the only back in America to make that claim. Against Air Force in the opener, he scored three times including an 89-yard run that set a Cal record. 3 more scores against NMSU, and then a couple of off games - 108 yards and a TD v Oregon State and 112 in the heartbreak loss to SC. Then J.J. got serious. UCLA was torched for 205 yards and two scores in the next outing, and then ASU, Oregon, Washington and Stanford all surrendered a touchdown and at least 120 yards to #30.

But J.J. Arrington, to us, defined himself in the rain and mud of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. You recall the scene - the Bears needed a blowout win to impress the human pollsters and vault past Texas into the Rose Bowl. It was not to be, but Arrington moved heaven and earth to make it so, rushing 31 times for 261 yards, the most by a Cal back since 1954.

norcalnick has more on Kent.

Full Disclosure: I had never heard of Jeff Kent before he was part of a trade that sent Matt Williams to the Indians and away from the Giants. In Cal’s baseball media guide there are only a few references to Jeff Kent. In 1987 he set a Cal record (since broken by Xavier Nady) with the most doubles in a season (25). Also in 1987, Kent set, and still holds, the Cal record for the most errors in a season (34) by ANY position. Nothing would indicate a potential Hall of Famer. What Kent went on to do is have the greatest professional baseball career of any Cal graduate ever. And there is no debate. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In 1996 Kent had 5 undistinguished seasons of baseball under his belt. He was averaging around 24 HRs per year and hitting about .275. A solid everyday major leaguer, but hardly a star. When my 11 year old self heard about the trade, I was none too pleased. You’re trading away Matt Williams?! Sure, Matty was getting older, but he jacked 43 bombs in the strike year! He hit .336 in 1995! You’re an idiot Sabean!

[block quotes] 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." [end block quotes]

Jeff Kent proceeded to prove that Brian Sabean wasn’t an idiot (yet, at least) by having perhaps the greatest statistical stretch a 2nd baseman has had in the history of baseball. In his 6 years as a Giant he averaged 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, he defense improved, he won an MVP and he combined with frenemy Barry Bonds to terrorize National League pitching. He would finish his career with the most home runs by a 2nd baseman ever.

Unfortunately Jeff Kent is also a world class jerk. That he and world class jerk Barry Bonds combined to lead the Giants to so much success from ’97-’02 is all the proof you need that hack writers like Bruce Jenkins don’t know what they’re talking about when they write about how critical "clubhouse chemistry" is for success on the diamond.

This blog post will give you the quick run down of all of the individuals, teams, groups, cities and ethnicities/sexual orientations that Jeff Kent has angered in some fashion. Plus he betrayed San Francisco to become a Dodger, which trumps all of the other evil he’s perpetuated.

But in the end Jeff Kent is a gritty, talented play with career accomplishments that could rank him as perhaps the greatest 2nd baseman in history. Remember him on the field, and not off it.