Former MLB third baseman Scott Rolen is in danger of being a one-and-done Hall of Fame ballotee. What that means is he is in danger of not garnering enough votes to even remain on the ballot past this year.
Rolen not getting into the Hall, let alone falling off the ballot completely, is a huge sign of disrespect to a player who has over 300 home runs and was one of the premiere defensive third basemen in the league for many years in the 2000s.
So what makes Rolen so worthy of the Hall of Fame? Well let’s start with the other third basemen already there:
Some familiar names for sure, guys you’ve probably (read, definitely) heard of before. All have something in common with Rolen as well: at least 70 career WAR. The only other third basemen in history with 70 WAR not currently in the Hall? Chipper Jones and Adrian Beltre. Jones is expected to get in this year with a near 100% vote, and Beltre we can all agree is bound to enter at some point as well.
For those of you not familiar with WAR it stands for “wins above replacement” and is the first stat associated with player worth. A WAR of zero equates to a replacement-level player, a guy who is not a net gain nor a net loss to his team. So for every point said player goes up, that’s how many more wins that player is worth to his team as opposed to without.
Now apply this to Rolen and he was worth about 5.5 WAR per a full 162-game regular season. During this time Rolen was one of the most consistent hitters (a career .281 hitter with a .855 OPS) as well as one of the best defensive third basemen, earning eight Gold Glove awards.
And although intangibles are hardly ever taken into consideration on a Hall of Fame ballot consider this, Rolen twice helped a lost baseball city return to glory. In 2004 and 2006 he helped the St. Louis Cardinals return to the World Series for the first time since 1987, winning the second one. Then in Cincinnati he helped the Reds return to the postseason for the first time in over a decade.
Scott Rolen is not getting much talk as a Hall of Famer because he wasn’t a flashy guy on the diamond or off it, he didn’t stand out. He just came to work every day and was consistently good if not great. A seven-time All Star, eight-time Gold Glove winner and counting numbers to match the other greats, it sure seems like Rolen fits the bill.
And what will we say in 10 or 15 years when Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado are up for consideration, guys who also made more spectacular plays with the glove than the bat, when they get in easily and we look back and bemoan that a talent like Scott Rolen didn’t get his fair shake?