He made his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996 and stayed there until 2002, then went to the St. Louis Cardinals and was a fixture there until 2007, and finished his career with short stints with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds.
Rolen is currently eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame: actually, he has been since 2018, and while he hasn’t been able to get in, he has a very good case for enshrinement.
It may not come in 2022, but his moment will eventually arrive.
With 42.9 percent of the ballots known, Rolen’s name has appeared on 69 percent of them.
At 168 ballots/~42.9% known:
Ortiz – 83.9%
Bonds – 78.0%
Clemens – 76.8%
Rolen – 69.0%
Schilling – 60.1%
Helton – 56.5%
Jones – 48.8%
Wagner – 48.2%
Sheffield – 47.0%
A-Rod – 41.1%
Ramírez – 38.1%
Sosa – 25.0%
Abreu/Pettitte/Rollins – 11.3%
— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 15, 2022
The minimum for election is 75 percent, so he’s not far off, and continues his upward trend.
He earned 10.2 percent of votes in 2018, 17.2 percent in 2019, 35.3 percent in 2020, and 52.9 percent in 2021.
Do you see the trend?
At this pace, he should be in by 2023, although there is a slight chance he enters in a few days.
Will he eventually have a place in Cooperstown?
The answer appears to be yes.
Yes, he should be in.
Examining Rolen’s Case
His totals may not look very impressive: .281 average, 316 home runs, 1,287 RBI, 2,077 hits.
However, he was a well-above average hitter and an elite fielder, the gold standard at third base in the nineties and 2000s.
That combination is more than worthy of a place among the greatest.
His career line is .281/.364/.490, with a 122 wRC+.
The wRC+ stat means weighted Runs Created Plus and evaluates offensive performance while considering external factors like park, era, and others.
Rolen’s 122 wRC+ means he was 22 percent better than the average, which is rock-solid for such an impactful defensive player.
For a more traditional stat to get an idea of his offensive prowess, we can use his excellent .855 career OBP.
Rolen fielded everything in sight and was a real game-changer in that area.
Let’s examine the rest of his case.
He Has Accolades And Peak Performance On His Side
He has them: he was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1997, won the 2002 Silver Slugger award, took eight Gold Gloves, was a seven-time All-Star, won the 2006 World Series with St. Louis and is in the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame.
Third baseman Scott Rolen for the Hall of Fame? YES!!
A premier third baseman of his generation. Power, speed, premium defense, and one of the smartest base runners.
— Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff) December 24, 2021
Check: between 2001 and 2004, he accumulated 27.3 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
That is 6.82 per season, with a peak of 9.0 in a fantastic 2004.
You have to be really, really good to achieve nine WAR in a single campaign.
Overall body of work?
He also has it: with 69.9 WAR, he would rank 11th among third basemen in history (it could be 10th if we remove Miguel Cabrera).
All things considered, voters of all ages and philosophies consider Rolen a player with a strong HOF case.
He will eventually have his place among the league’s best.