Scott Rolen was probably the greatest fielding third basemen Main League Baseball has ever seen, and on Tuesday night time he was rewarded for that slick glove with a spot within the Corridor of Fame.
Rolen was named on 76.3 per cent of ballots solid by eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Affiliation of America. That’s tied with Jim (Catfish) Hunter for the ninth-lowest proportion amongst Corridor of Famers. Rolen made the minimize by simply 5 votes.
A second-round decide within the 1993 MLB draft, Rolen spent elements of 17 seasons within the majors. He might be remembered greatest for prolonged stints with the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals, however he additionally spent a yr and a half with the Blue Jays earlier than closing out his profession with the Cincinnati Reds.
Rolen was the one considered one of 28 candidates on this yr’s poll to safe a spot in Cooperstown. He might be joined on the July 23 ceremony by former Jay Fred McGriff, who was elected by the up to date period committee, which re-examines the circumstances of these beforehand missed.
“You don’t take into consideration this,” an overwhelmed Rolen advised MLB Community shortly after the announcement. “You concentrate on making an attempt to do the most effective you possibly can and play on your crew and play the sport as greatest you possibly can. It’s such an extended street. I by no means thought that the Corridor of Fame can be the reply, however thanks very a lot (to the voters). It’s nice.”
The now 47-year-old Rolen was named to seven all-star groups, however his numbers have been typically missed as a result of his profession overlapped the steroid period, when statistics have been inflated. The native of Indiana was at his greatest from 1997 to 2004, when he averaged 28 homers and 102 RBIs per season whereas slashing .287/.379/.524. He was Nationwide League rookie of the yr in 1997, however solely completed within the prime 5 as soon as in voting for most precious participant.
Whereas Rolen’s offensive numbers have been higher than he typically acquired credit score for, his largest asset was the glove. He had extra vary than most shortstops, and his easy palms wolfed up any ball that got here shut. His eight Gold Gloves rank fourth at his place, trailing solely Brooks Robinson (16), Mike Schmidt (10) and Nolan Arenado (10).
By the point Rolen arrived in Toronto, he was 33 and had spent elements of 13 seasons within the majors. The primary yr went OK with a .262 common and .780 on-base plus slugging proportion throughout 115 video games. The next season was significantly better with a .320 common and .846 OPS main into the commerce deadline.
That surge in manufacturing meant the rebuilding Jays have been in a position to recoup some worth. He was despatched to the Reds on July 31, 2009 for Edwin Encarnación, plus pitching prospects Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart. On the time, Encarnación was thought of a throw-in to assist offset salaries, but inside just a few years he was on his approach to turning into one of many franchise’s all-time greats. The prospects by no means panned out.
“Transferring to Toronto, only a complete completely different recreation within the American League,” Rolen mentioned. “That was unbelievable for me and my household, the relationships and folks that I’m nonetheless buddies with there. Ending up with the Reds, I acquired to come back dwelling, so to talk. My youngsters acquired to go to highschool, we commuted backwards and forwards. The folks and teammates alongside the way in which have been unbelievable human beings, unbelievable folks.”
Rolen was at all times thought of a well-above-average participant, however wasn’t essentially seen as a future Corridor of Famer for the majority of his profession. In 2018, his first yr on the poll, the corridor didn’t even embody him among the many featured checklist of newly eligibles. He obtained simply 10.2 per cent of the vote that yr, earlier than seeing massive bumps in assist every of the final three winters.
The numbers assist his case with 70.1 wins above alternative, tenth all-time amongst third basemen. Eight of the gamers forward of him are already within the corridor, whereas the opposite, Adrián Beltré, may achieve entry as quickly as subsequent yr. Two beneath him — Edgar Martínez and John Franklin (Residence Run) Baker — are in as properly.
The information wasn’t nearly as good for different former Jays up for consideration.
Deserving candidate Jeff Kent obtained 46.5 per cent assist, properly wanting the required 75 per cent, in his closing yr on the writers’ poll. Infielder Omar Vizquel obtained 19.5 per cent, Mark Buehrle 10.8 per cent. And for some purpose, R.A. Dickey acquired a single vote.
Kent figures to get one other look from the up to date period committee. He ranks first in dwelling runs at second base with 351, properly forward of Corridor of Famers similar to Ryne Sandberg (277), Joe Morgan (266) and Rogers Hornsby (265). Solely Hornsby had a better slugging proportion, whereas Kent ranks third at his place with an .855 OPS.
His numbers additionally examine favourably to McGriff’s. Throughout 17 seasons, Kent hit 377 dwelling runs with 1,518 RBIs, 2,561 hits, 1,320 runs and a 55.4 WAR. In 19 years, McGriff hit 493 homers with 1,550 RBIs, 2,490 hits, 1,349 runs and 52.6 WAR. Very like Rolen, Kent’s stint with the Jays was temporary — traded to the New York Mets throughout his rookie season to amass David Cone.
Kent may need to attend one other few years, however Rolen and McGriff want solely stay affected person for an additional six months earlier than their plaque might be proudly displayed within the Corridor of Fame. Whereas neither was a lock to make it, they’re each credible candidates who signify their period properly.
Rolen gained’t be going into the corridor sporting a Jays cap; McGriff most likely gained’t, both. However this metropolis and nation acquired to observe them at their greatest, and most will agree that Cooperstown is strictly the place the 2 former stars belong.