Lost in the PED controversy, though, is the underappreciated career of Kenny Lofton. The outfielder is on the ballot for the first time as well, but he isn’t expected to garner much support. A light-hitting speedster during his 17-year playing career, Lofton’s production was dwarfed by the 50-homer seasons that were common between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s.
...Baseball-Reference.com, which has done an admirable job of attempting to quantify defense before batted-ball data was logged regularly (spanning most of Lofton’s playing career), puts Lofton at 64.9 career Wins Above Replacement (WAR), just a sliver behind Tony Gwynn at 65.3. Among Hall of Fame outfielders, Lofton would have the 21st-highest WAR of the 56 who are currently enshrined. He ranks ahead of such luminaries as Duke Snider, Richie Ashburn, Willie Stargell and Jim Rice.
Some might say that if you allow a fringe Hall of Famer like Lofton in, you lower the standard for everybody else, but that ship has already sailed. Rice, with his 44.3 WAR, is only one recent example of voters’ letting some of the less-worthy into the hallowed grounds. If Rice is in, then Lofton should be pushed in on a landslide.
It is a very unfortunate ballot for Lofton to appear on for the first time. Bonds and Clemens posted a career 158.1 and 133.9 WAR, respectively—both historically legendary marks. Had Lofton appeared last year, for example, he would have had to compete with a top five of Jeff Bagwell (76.7), Larry Walker (69.7), Barry Larkin (67.1), Alan Trammell (67.1) and Tim Raines (66.2). Though he shouldn’t, it will be understandable when Lofton gets looked over on a very stacked ballot. Hopefully, though, when all is said and done, we’ll have at least gained a better appreciation for what Lofton did over an impressive 17-year career.
Posted: December 08, 2012 at 08:12 AM | 39 comment(s)
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