Former St. Louis Cardinals third baseman, Scott Rolen, is making his first trip through Hall of Fame voting. Preliminary results aren’t in his favor. But, I think he deserves to be in Cooperstown.
Scott Rolen had a great career. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1997, was a seven time all-star, won eight Gold Gloves, and won a World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. He is one of the greatest third basemen of all time. But, many people don’t think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
His career triple-slash of .281/.364/.490 is good but not great. He hit 316 career home runs and had 2077 hits.
Most Hall of Fame voters (they need to catch up with the times, but that’s an entirely different issue) want 3000 hits or 500 home runs from position players. But, all-in-all, his offensive numbers were above average. Those numbers alone are not Hall of Fame worthy. I get that.
But, when you combine his above average offense with his great career defensive numbers, he should be in Cooperstown.
During 1997-2012, he had 114 defensive runs saved (DRS), trailing only the great Adrian Beltre at third base. That number is also fifth in all of baseball, trailing Beltre, Chase Utley, Pujols (I was a bit surprised to see that), and Jack Wilson. Rolen was undoubtedly an elite defender. This made Rolen an extremely productive player when you combine it with his 122 OPS+.
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From 1997 (his first full season) to 2012 (his last season), he was worth 70.3 fWAR. That is sixth in that time frame, trailing only Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez. Jeter is a Hall of Famer. Jones is going to be voted in this year. Pujols is a no-brainer down the road. Bonds and ARod will never (most likely) be voted in because of PEDs, but were unbelievable players.
Also during this time frame, he was worth more fWAR in fewer plate appearances than Ichiro Suzuki, Vladimir Guerrero, and Jim Thome. Vlad and Thome likely are getting in this year. Ichiro will almost certainly be voted in during his first year of eligibility.
He is 10th all-time in rWAR among third basemen. The nine in front of him are all Hall of Famers (Adrian Beltre isn’t yet, but will be).
Current Hall of Famers who had lower career rWAR than Rolen (he has 70.0): Tony Gwynn (68.8), Ivan Rodriguez (68.4), Carlton Fisk (68.3), Eddie Murray (68.3), and Earnie Banks (67.4). There are many more.
Rolen may not have the “counting stats” that many voters want to see. He doesn’t have the .300+ career average, the 450-500 home runs, or the 3000 hits. But, he was an extremely valuable and great player during his career. Catch up with the times voters. Put Scott Rolen in Cooperstown.