Posted by Andy on August 31, 2010
Kenny Lofton led the league in stolen bases 5 times, was a 6-time All-Star, and a 4-time Gold Glove winner. He played in the 6th-most games in center field since 1954, and was part of an incredible number of playoff teams.
His 622 career stolen bases rank 15th all-time while his 160 times caught stealing ranks only 21st.
Does Lofton deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Let's discuss and vote below.
For Kenny Lofton in the Hall of Fame
- His 65.3 career WAR is 79th among all position players, in the same neighborhood as Ernie Banks, Roberto Alomar, Manny Ramirez, and Gary Carter.
- Lofton's WAR total is boosted almost equally by offensive and defensive contributions. He was a good player on both sides of the ball and occupied key positions in both cases (leadoff batter, center fielder).
- He didn't play his first full season until Age 25, which really hurts him in the counting stats area, such as total stolen bases and runs scored. His career OBP of .372, though, is a much better measure of how good he was at getting on base.
- Among CF only, Lofton ranks top 10 in WAR:
Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age 1 Ty Cobb 159.4 1905 1928 18-41 2 Willie Mays 154.7 1951 1973 20-42 3 Tris Speaker 133.0 1907 1928 19-40 4 Mickey Mantle 120.2 1951 1968 19-36 5 Joe DiMaggio 83.6 1936 1951 21-36 6 Ken Griffey 78.4 1989 2010 19-40 7 Billy Hamilton 69.6 1888 1901 22-35 8 Jim Edmonds 68.1 1993 2010 23-40 9 Duke Snider 67.5 1947 1964 20-37 10 Kenny Lofton 65.3 1991 2007 24-40
That's a pretty impressive list, no?
- From 1995 until his last season (2007) Lofton appeared in the playoffs every single season except 2000 and 2005. Think about that for a minute. Now realize that he did it with 8 different teams--the Indians 3 times (in 3 separate stints with the team) plus the Braves, Giants, Cubs, Yankees, and Dodgers. He also played for a very good Phillies team in 2005. The bottom is that wherever this guy went, his teams won. Sure, he can't take all the credit, but he was clearly an integral part of many, many very good teams.
- Lofton has the reputation as the best leadoff hitter of his generation. Yes, there were plenty of other good ones, but he was the best over the entire period of his career.
Against Kenny Lofton in the Hall of Fame
- Career OPS+ of 107.
- Career post-season line of .247/.315/.352 over a whopping 95 games, plus no World Series championships (losses in 1995 with the Indians and 2002 with the Giants).
- Below-average fielding percentage in CF (although my guess is that this has more to do with him getting close enough to many balls that he made errors on that other guys wouldn't even get to.)
- Despite being a good leadoff hitter, he never led in any major statistical category (other than stolen bases) except for hits in the strike-shortened 1994 season and triples in 1995.
- Some degree of his success must be attributed to the fact that he played on a lot of really good teams. For half a season with the 2003 Pirates he had an OPS+ of 98 and a .333 OBP.
- Other than his stolen base total, his only impressive career ranking for a counting stat is Runs (58th) and even that is pretty low for a guy reputed to be the best leadoff hitter of his generation.
Please vote below.