Era Committee voting changes make Kenny Lofton Hall of Fame induction nearly impossible

Kenny Lofton of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Kenny Lofton of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
Kenny Lofton, Cleveland Indians
Kenny Lofton of the Cleveland Indians (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

There are some new Era Committee voting changes taking place, which might make it even more difficult for Kenny Lofton to make the Hall of Fame.

Those sneaky old farts are at it again, moving the goal posts on Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility. Apparently, the hall is getting overcrowded or something.

In a nutshell, the voting system for players off the BBWAA ballot (those individuals whose fate is left up to the Era Committee) is getting shaken up, and each era is getting its own ballot. In doing so, if there was any hope to one day see former Cleveland baseball great Kenny Lofton in the Hall of Fame, it just became a lot more difficult.

To lay it out there quickly, there will now be three ballots:

  • Contemporary Baseball Era (1980-onward)
  • Contemporary Baseball Era for non-players (coaches, executives, etc.)
  • Classic Baseball Era (pre-1980)

Each of these will be cycled through on a yearly basis – in other words, “triennial” voting will return.

The voting schedule is as follows:

  • December 2022 (Class of 2023): Contemporary Baseball (players)
  • December 2023 (Class of 2024): Contemporary Baseball (managers, umpires, and executives)
  • December 2024 (Class of 2025): Classic Baseball

Due to this re-shuffling of the deck, so to speak, one-and-done candidates are likely going to have a much more difficult time gaining the attention of the voting committee. This is the position that Kenny Lofton now finds himself in – he was on the 2013 ballot and only received 3.2% of the vote that year.

Lofton currently ranks tenth all-time on the center field JAWS list. JAWS is a favorite stat of voters when determining a player’s potential Hall of Fame status.  Of the nine players ahead of Lofton, only two are not in the Hall as of yet. The first is some guy named Mike Trout (fifth all-time) and the other is Carlos Beltran (ninth all-time). Lofton’s JAW score of 55.9 is just below the 58.1 average of the nineteen Hall of Famers at the position.

This shake up to the voting comes as a real bummer to any Cleveland fan looking for Lofton to make the hall, as it appears now that Lofton was the most likely former Indian to make it. Omar Vizquel is unlikely to make it at this point, as he has been receiving fewer and fewer votes since his personal legal matters have come to light. Manny Ramirez is wrapped up enough with the PED crowd that he is likely to be on the outside looking in. Not to mention Ramirez also spent just as many years in Boston and put up slightly better numbers there.

Lofton was never a slam dunk to get into the Hall of Fame, but now he’s really going to get buried as the PED players fall off the ballot. These are guys who got a lot closer in the voting in recent years too, I might add.

As I just alluded, Lofton will have the deck stacked against him. In just the past three years alone, here are just some of the players who failed to garner 75% of the vote and are now subject to this new balloting system: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Cliff Lee, and Mark Teixeira. Again, many of these individuals have the PED cloud hanging over their career achievements, but it is still worth noting that this change will seemingly have a massive ripple effect moving forward.

Time will tell, and maybe Lofton still finds a way in, but it might be time for Cleveland fans to remember the good memories of Kenny stealing bags and homers away from opponents, instead of dreaming of his potential spot in Cooperstown.