He wasn't completely fit for the 11 games he played against Florida in the regular season, in which he batted a desultory .261, struck out 13 times in 46 at bats and was caught stealing thrice in five tries. The fact that the Marlins won eight of 12 games from the Braves this year should have focused Lofton and his teammates heading into the National League Championship Series. Atlanta can't expect to keep hitting .217, as it did in sweeping Houston, and cruise into the World Series. Lofton has to provide that old spark at the top of the order. "He's a catalyst with great athletic ability, a guy who can be disruptive," says Gary Hughes, Florida's vice president of player personnel, who was scouting the Braves in the playoffs.
Lofton hasn't been disruptive to the same extent on or, apparently, off the field as he was in Cleveland, where there was some throat-clearing among the Indians early in the season about improved clubhouse atmosphere since Lofton and Albert Belle had taken their leaves. "He's come over here and been real good," Glavine says. "We've all heard the Kenny Lofton stories about what kind of guy he may or may not be. You name it, we've heard it. In a clubhouse that's been really good, where everyone got along well, you worry about a guy like that. But Kenny's been great."
The blur that is Lofton on the field will again come into sharp focus in the National League Championship Series. Florida catcher Charles Johnson threw out 47.5% of would-be base stealers in the regular season, but if Lofton is right, he won't be deterred from trying. Lofton versus Johnson will be one of those games within a game that baseball offers so lovingly every October.