The Hall of Fame case for Scott Rolen
17+ seasons, 2,038 games: .281-.364-.490-.864
2,077 hits, 517 doubles, 316 home runs, 1,287 RBI, 1,211 runs.
Weighted OPS+ of 122.....meaning his career performance was 22% better than league average.
7 All-Star Games, 1997 Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger.
8 Gold Gloves. Among 3B only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) have more. He was the best defender of his era at third base. When I think of Rolen as a defender I think of perfect chest high throws, coming from all angles of his release point.
He has a career WAR of 70.0 (Baseball-Reference). His career WAR is 9th best among 3B all-time. Only Chipper Jones and Adrian Beltre rank ahead of him. Jones is in the HOF and Beltre will be.
Rolen's case is hurt by injuries and back issues that plagued him throughout his career. He played 135+ games just seven times in his 17-year career.
In reality, his career began to fade in 2005. He played just 843 games over his final eight seasons. His average season over his final eight seasons: 105 games, 11 HR, 57 RBI, .274 BA, .791 OPS, 107 OPS+.
He did hit 22 homers, drove in 95 runs and won a Gold Glove with St. Louis in 2006.
He experienced a brief career bounce upon his arrival in Cincinnati: He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 2010. He clubbed 20 homers and drove in 83 while finishing 14th in NL MVP voting. But he was a shell of himself in his final two seasons in 2011 and 2012. He retired at the age of 37.
Rolen was a consummate professional. He was a no-nonsense guy. He did his leading by his preparation and actions. He never sought the spotlight.
His career numbers don't blow you away. But the more you study them the more impressed you are. Yet those numbers fall short of HOF benchmarks like 500 homers or 3,000 hits.
He never ranked among the league's Top 10 in hits, homers or batting average.
He received MVP votes in just four of 17 seasons, finishing 4th-14th-20th and 24th.
He won a ring with the 2006 Cardinals, hitting .421 in the World Series. But overall he hit just .220-5-12 in 39 career postseason games.
His defense won't be appreciated nearly as much as it should be by voters. His position has always been under-appreciated/underrepresented in Cooperstown. Of 228 Hall of Fame players (319 people total), only 17 of them were primarily third baseman, the fewest number of inductees at any position.
Rolen had a really good career, was it enough to make it a Hall of Fame career?
The Modern Era Committee eventually carried Alan Trammell to Cooperstown
Check out the career comparison:
Rolen: 70.0 WAR, .855 OPS, 122 OPS+, 8 Gold Gloves, 7 All-Star games, 1 Silver Slugger
Trammel: 70.4 WAR, .767 OPS, 110 OPS+, 4 Gold Gloves, 6 All-Star games, 3 Silver Slugger
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