Kenny Lofton still upset with Hall of Fame snub, blames PED users

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Former major league outfielder Kenny Lofton fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility in 2013, getting only 3.2 percent of the vote, a bit below the five percent threshold needed to remain. Lofton was certainly underrated by the voters, as he accrued 68.3 WAR according to Baseball Reference. Of the 61 Hall of Famers who spent at least 65 percent of their games in the outfield, 38 of them had less career WAR than Lofton, including Andre Dawson (64.8), Dave Winfield (64.2), Richie Ashburn (63.9), and Vladimir Guerrero (59.4).

Six years later, Lofton is still upset about being snubbed in Hall of Fame voting, Peter Botte of the New York Post reports. Lofton blames a ballot stuffed with performance enhancing drug (PED) users. He said, “I was expecting to do better. But I’m a realist. I look back at the situation, and at that time, I think what happened for me was I came out on the ballot in the wrong year. There was so many people on the ballot, and so many people who had a potential situation with the performance-enhancing drugs. I felt a lot of voters wanted to keep those guys on the ballot, and that was votes taken away from me.”

Lofton said about the electorate, “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. At my position, I felt like I stood out. I just feel like the Veterans Committee should look at my defense and my offense and what I did on the base paths. Even though I felt good to see that Harold Baines got in, he played one position, or one side. He was a hitter. Baseball is about two sides of the field. I felt like I helped my teams on both sides of the field. Hopefully that will be looked at differently now.”

2013 was the first year since 1996 in which the BBWAA did not elect a single player to the Hall of Fame. Eight players — Craig Biggio, Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, and Alan Trammell — would go on to eventually become Hall of Famers. But Lofton’s hypothesis doesn’t hold up. Players suspected of using or known to have used PEDs didn’t fare well in 2013, as Roger Clemens got 37.6 percent of the vote, followed by Barry Bonds with 36.2 percent, Mark McGwire with 16.9 percent, Sammy Sosa with 12.5 percent, and Rafael Palmeiro with 8.8 percent. Furthermore, voters who tended to vote for players suspected of PED users were also more likely to vote for Lofton. Those who don’t view PEDs as a limiting factor also tend to be more brushed up on analytics. Of the five ballots on which Lofton appeared, Bonds and Clemens were on three of them. Many ballots didn’t utilize the maximum 10 votes, either, so it wasn’t like voters were hemming and hawing between a PED user and Lofton for the 10th vote and ultimately deciding on Lofton.

The BBWAA electorate, even just six years ago, was a lot older and a lot less fluent in analytics than it is now. I believe that if Lofton were on the 2019 ballot, he would have fared a lot better, certainly enough to make it on the ballot next year. Aside from his stolen base totals, Lofton’s traditional stat sheet doesn’t stand out. When one digs into things like on-base percentage, stolen base success rate, defense, and positional adjustments, Lofton’s case becomes much better and much more obvious. Hopefully, the Today’s Game committee takes Lofton into much greater consideration than the BBWAA did and puts him in the Hall of Fame where he belongs.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.