His stats are impressive:
2,428 hits, 101st all-time
622 stolen bases, 15th
1,528 runs, 54th
4 Gold Gloves
11 trips to the playoffs
6 All-Star selections, 4 as a starter
But they aren't quite good enough -- yet.
What's amazing is that the 40 year old has still got it. He has batted .296 or better in 4 of the last 5 seasons, while posting an above average OPS and playing a pretty credible center field.
If over the next 4 years he can match his production over the last 4 years, here's what that profile will look like:
2,913 hits, 36th all-time, immediately ahead of Hall of Famers Zack Wheat, Frankie Frisch, Mel Ott and Babe Ruth
706 stolen bases, 11th all-time, passing Joe Morgan
1,809 runs, 17th all-time, ahead of Ted Williams
As if those numbers aren't impressive enough, if he gets to that point, he'd almost certainly find a way to stick around long enough to get his 3,000th hit -- that extra time would certainly give him a great shot at surpassing Honus Wagner and finishing up in the top 10 all-time in swipes and possibly passing Lou Gehrig to sneak into the top 10 in runs as well.
If he can keep it up and at least come close to posting those numbers, it seems to me that it would be hard to keep him out.
Of course, I would be remiss to not mention some more advanced stats. Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus has a pretty well developed way of assessing a player's value as a HOFer. He compares a player's career WARP3, Peak WARP3 and JAWS score (the average of the first two) to the average HOFer at the position.
100.9 WARP3, 54.3 Peak, 77.6 JAWS
Simply put, not Hall of Fame numbers. The average HF CFer posted 111.7, 65.1, 88.4
Of course, in 4 years, that can change a lot:
118.6 WARP3, 54.3 Peak, 86.5 JAWS
The peak score is very low and drags down his JAWS score, but the career score would rate 7th all-time among CFers and he could realistically pass Joltin Joe for the 6th spot.
Now there's certainly a whole lot of speculation going on here -- is it realistic? I don't know. Even if it comes true, would Lofton be worthy of enshrinement? It would certainly be more of a career achievement award than the typical HOFer, but he wouldn't be the first.
So what does everyone think?