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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Kenny Lofton helped teams many ways over 17 majors seasons

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card

As he geared up for a new season with his new team in early April 1997, Kenny Lofton explained his game to The Atlanta Constitution.

He was the type of player, he told The Constitution, who was going to go out there and give 110 percent each day.

"A lot of times, I play when I'm hurt. I feel my presence there is needed," Lofton told The Constitution. "If I can't do it offensively, I'll do it defensively. I feel if I can't help you one way, I'll help you another."

Lofton, a veteran of three previous All-Star games with the Indians, went out there and made another one that year with the Braves in 1997. He then saw two more in a career that spanned 17 major league seasons.

Throughout, he used his speed, ending with 622 stolen bases, good for 15th all time.

Lofton's career began in 1988, taken by the Astros in the 17th round of the draft out of the University of Arizona.

Lofton started with the Astros at short-season Auburn. He made single-A Asheville for 1989 and high-A Osceola for 1990. He then saw AAA Tucson for 1991 and then Houston that same year.

Lofton saw 20 games that first year with the Astros. He then moved to the Indians and became a major league regular. 

"He hasn't played very much, but his baseball sense and instincts are very good," Cleveland first base coach Dave Nelson told The Los Angeles Times that May in 1992. "He's not doing this on sheer speed."

Lofton ended up playing 148 games that year. He stole 66 bases to lead the league, the first of five-straight seasons where he would do so. 

In 1993, he stole 70 bases and hit .325. Lofton earned his first All-Star nod in 1994, his first of six straight.

In 1995, he helped the Indians to the World Series, scoring from second on a passed ball in one ALCS game.

"I think that's basically a lead-off hitter's job, to get on base and make things happen," Lofton told The Associated Press then. "That's what I try to do."

Lofton continued with the Indians through 2001. He then went through eight different organizations into 2007 before returning to the Indians. 

Lofton ended with 2,103 total games played, a .299 batting average and those 622 steals.

Lofton has since turned to filmmaking. And, after failing to make it past the first ballot in Hall of Fame voting, he held out hope that he'd one day make it through the veteran's committee.

"They know the era I played in and all the things I was dealing with. I played against steroids guys and I still was competing during that time," Lofton told the New York Post in 2019. "At my position, I felt like I stood out."

Kenny Lofton 1990 Osceola Astros card

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:4,313
Made the Majors:1,396-32.4%-X
Never Made Majors:2,917-67.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:569-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:350

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