On January 9 of this year, I lamented the fact Kenny Loften had fallen off the Hall of Fame ballot. While my thoughts were legitimate, I think calling it a “tragedy” was a bit over-the-top…
Yes, nobody was elected to the Hall of Fame today, meaning that the only people going into the Hall this summer will be long-dead old-timers. It is sad to see Biggio and Piazza not get in when their connection to the steroid era has been innuendo at most, and for returning candidates like Bagwell, Raines and Jack Morris not to get in either (although Morris, at least, is more of a iffy pick to start with).
But want to know what the true tragedy is? Kenny Lofton just being dropped from the ballot entirely, only receiving 3.2% of the vote, just behind Bernie Williams (who also deserved to remain on the ballot).
Now, I’m not saying Kenny Lofton is a Hall of Famer. He isn’t, but he is not a player who should have been dropped after his first appearance. After all, he was, as I was growing up, a near-constant presence in baseball, seemingly always making the All-Star Game, winning a Gold Glove, or leading off for a playoff contender… and this was after his best years. In 1994, for example, he may well have had a chance to get the MVP if not for the season being cut short. He is 15th in career stolen bases.
In other words, he shouldn’t have just been dropped from the ballot. He never should have been a major threat to make the Hall, but he should have gotten his 15 years on the ballot.