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Kenny Lofton

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Kenny Lofton

A photo of Kenny Lofton.

Kenneth Lofton (born May 31, 1967 in East Chicago, Indiana) is a Major League Baseball outfielder who is currently a free agent. He bats and throws left-handed. He most recently played for the Cleveland Indians, with whom he has spent 10 seasons in three separate stints. He has also played for 10 other Major League teams, though none of them for more than one year, which was later parodied in a DHL commercial in 2007.[1] Lofton has the most career stolen bases of any active player, and 15th all-time.

CollegeEdit

In college, he was the backup point guard (to Steve Kerr) on an Arizona Wildcats team that made it to the Final Four of the 1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, and he set season and career school records for steals. He was the starting point guard the following year as Arizona made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Lofton is one of only two men to play in a college basketball Final Four (1988, the first for the Arizona Wildcats) and a Major League Baseball World Series. The other is fellow East Chicago Washington High School alumnus Tim Stoddard, who was a member of the N.C. State team that won the 1974 NCAA Basketball Championship. Stoddard later pitched for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1979 World Series.

Lofton decided to try out for the baseball team during his junior year. Although he did not see much playing time, his speed and potential were recognized by baseball scouts, and he was chosen by the Houston Astros in the 17th round of Major League Baseball's 1988 amateur draft. He played minor league baseball during the summer while completing his basketball eligibility at Arizona.

Minor leaguesEdit

Lofton struggled initially in his professional baseball career. He hit .214 in 48 games for Auburn in the New York - Penn League, although he did steal 26 bases in 30 attempts and was solid in the outfield.

Lofton returned to Auburn in 1989, hitting .263 with 26 steals in 34 games. He then hit .329 with 14 steals in 22 games for Asheville in the South Atlantic League. As his college basketball career came to an end, Lofton was able to concentrate fully on baseball and he improved rapidly, finishing second in the league in hitting at .331 while adding 62 steals for Osceola in the Florida State League. He also drew 61 walks, demonstrating patience and intelligence as a hitter, while improving defensively.

After a great spring training in 1991, he jumped directly to Tucson of the Pacific Coast League, skipping Double-A. He hit .308 with 30 steals and 52 walks for Tucson, with 19 doubles and 17 triples. At Tucson, he led his team to the PCL championship and made the league's All-Star squad. In September of 1991, the Astros promoted Lofton to the majors. In his major league debut, he had three hits and scored three runs against the Cincinnati Reds.

Major LeaguesEdit

Stellar debut aside, Lofton struggled during his brief stint in Houston, batting only .203. With future all-star Steve Finley already firmly entrenched in Houston's center field, Lofton was traded to the Cleveland Indians for top prospect Eddie Taubensee and right-handed pitcher Willie Blair.

During his rookie season, Lofton hit .285, his 66 stolen bases establishing an all-time record for an American League rookie. He finished second in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. His career blossomed from that point on, as Lofton proved to be one of the consistently excellent players (and perhaps the premier leadoff hitter) of the 1990s. He appeared in six consecutive all-star games and won four straight Gold Gloves for the Indians and the Atlanta Braves. Through the 2006 season, Lofton had tallied a .299 career batting average with 123 home runs, 120 triples (2nd among active players), and 1,442 runs (6th among active players) in 1,967 games.

His 622 stolen bases through 2007 rank him 1st among active players and 15th all-time. He holds the Cleveland Indians record for stolen bases with 450 steals.

He played with the Indians until 1996. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with Alan Embree for Marquis Grissom and slugger David Justice. Lofton rejoined the Indians in 1998 when he signed as a free agent, forcing the Indians to trade Grissom. He played in Cleveland for three more years. From 2001 to 2007, Lofton played for eight teams. On July 27, 2007, Lofton was traded by the Texas Rangers back to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league catcher Max Ramírez, marking the beginning of his third tour of duty with the Indians.[2] A surprised Jacobs Field crowd greeted Lofton with a standing ovation during his first at bat for this tour of duty with the Indians. Lofton noted, "I missed being in Cleveland... I enjoy Cleveland. It's the city that got me going."[3] Lofton became a free agent at the end of the season. Lofton had received offers from both the Reds and Rays in the 07-08 offseason, but turned down both. Rumors have started up again as of the week of May 25, 2008 with him going to the Cubs or Mets.

Post-season playEdit

In 84 postseason games, he has hit .244 with 6 home runs and 28 RBIs.

In the 1995 ALCS against Seattle, he came around to score from second on a passed ball.

In the 2002 NLCS, he hit the NLCS game winning single for the San Francisco Giants, driving in David Bell from second.

He flew out to right center to end the 2002 World Series.

In game one of the 2007 ALDS against New York, he went 3-4 with 4 RBIs and 1 stolen base, tying him with Ricky Henderson for Major League Baseball's all-time post-season stolen bases record (33). In game two, he went 2 for 3 with two walks and scored the winning run in the 11th inning.

In game three of the 2007 ALCS, he hit a 2-run homer against the Boston Red Sox.

In game four of the 2007 ALCS, Lofton earned his 34th career post-season stolen base, setting a new MLB record for playoff steals.

FamilyEdit

Lofton has two younger brothers. His family lives in East Chicago, IN.

HighlightsEdit

  • 6-time All-Star (1994-99)
  • 4-time Gold Glove Award (1993-96)
  • Top 5 MVP, (4th) in 1994
  • 5-time league leader in stolen bases (1992-96)
  • Led league in hits (1994)
  • Led league in triples (1995)
  • Led league in at-bats (1996)
  • Led league center fielders in assists, (14) in 1992
  • Holds the MLB record (tie) for runs scored in the first inning in a season, (18) in 2000
  • Holds the American League record for stolen bases by a rookie, (66) in 1992
  • Holds the MLB record for post-season stolen bases (34)
  • Holds the MLB record for most different teams played on in the playoffs (6)
  • Drove in the NLCS winning run in 2002
  • Baseball Weekly Top 10 Outfielders of the 90's

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Rickey Henderson
American League Stolen Base Champion
1992-1996
Succeeded by:
Brian Hunter

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