Alomar Jr and Lofton miss Hall of Fame, and for good
The BWAA announced the 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame class on Wednesday, and for just the eighth time in the history of the voting and first time since 1996 no one was voted into Cooperstown.
While a lot of people will hem and haw about how Craig Biggio and Jack Morris should have been in, or debate about whether the known PED users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others should be in, of most interest to Cleveland Indians fans is what happened in the vote with former fan favorites Sandy Alomar Jr and Kenny Lofton.
Lofton was a first time eligible player, but he only received 3.2% of the vote. Sandy Alomar was also up for the first time and received just 2.8% of the vote. To get into Cooperstown a player has to be named on at least 75% of the more than 500 ballots, but players that are named on less than 5% of the ballots are no longer candidates in future elections. This means both Lofton and Alomar Jr. were one and done candidates.
Alomar Jr. was not much of a surprise as his inclusion on the ballot was somewhat of a surprise in itself, but there is some shock that Lofton fell off the ballot so quickly. He had almost no chance of ever making it, but considering he was one of the most dynamic players in the game in the 90s he could have hung around as a candidate for another few years.
Former fan favorites Manny Ramirez and Omar Vizquel will be first time candidates in 2018, and both have a much better shot at getting in than Alomar Jr. and Lofton did. Also, if Jim Thome retires after this season, he would be up for the Hall of Fame in 2019.
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Just because a player did not make it on the first ballot is not somehow a slight or small degradation to their respective careers. Lou Brock, Kirby Puckett, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Rod Carew all made the Hall on their first ballot.
But players like Joe Dimaggio, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize, Rogers Hornsby, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Mel Ott, Yogi Berra and Eddie Mathews all took multiple chances to make it. There’s no way the first group somehow supersedes the second.
Baseball is a continually changing game. There are differing opinions, methods of analysis, and viewpoints. It is, simply, always evolving.
For example, Lofton, who played parts of 17 seasons, was actually more valuable than Sammy Sosa, despite the 600+ homeruns (66 fWAR vs. 64 fWAR).
Using Total Zone, Lofton saved 115 runs in his career at center field. That's the third highest mark at the position since the start of the Live Ball Era.
And taking it one step further, using JAWS, a statistic developed by Jay Jaffe that contains a combination of career and 7-year peak years, Lofton was actually deserving of the Hall of Fame more than, say, Edgar Martinez, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and even the greatest offensive catcher in history, Mike Piazza.
It's a shame that people -- old-school writers -- continue to put Jack Morris on some type of pedastal when Lofton was almost twice as qualified.
The voting for the Hall of Fame needs to be changed, not only who actually votes, but how many people a voter can actually pick. Why just 10? Because it's a pretty number? Why not, say, 12 or 15, or even 20?
With the loaded class coming on the 2014 ballot you will see tremendously talented players -- and equally deserving -- begin to fall off the ballot.
It's a joke, really.
Both were excellent defensively at premium positions, but Lofton's offensive contributions were much greater, as he was one of hte league's best base stealers and was an OBP machine. Lofton's career WAR was 66, and he wasn't accumulating that by being below average for a long time at the end of his career, in his final year his WAR was 2.8, or, better than any of the Indians outfielders last year. From '92-'99 he was one of the best players in the league.