By Katie Woo, C. Trent Rosecrans and Nick Groke
Scott Rolen is a Hall of Famer. The veteran of 17 big league seasons was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), the Hall of Fame announced Tuesday. Rolen was the only player to receive enough votes to qualify for enshrinement. Here’s what you need to know:
- On the ballot for the sixth time this year, Rolen received the most votes of any returnee from last year, earning 76.3 percent in 2023 after receiving 63.2 percent of the 394 votes cast in 2022.
- Rolen was voted into the Hall of Fame by five votes. He joins six other players who made it by that small of a margin.
- Rolen played 17 seasons in MLB with the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds and Blue Jays. He boasts a career batting average of .281 with 1,287 RBI and 316 home runs.
- Fred McGriff, elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee in December, will be inducted into the Hall in July.
Approximately 400 BBWAA members voted on the 2023 ballot. Eligible players need 75 percent of those to include their name for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. They are removed from the ballot if they receive less than 5 percent or have been on the ballot 10 times without election.
There were 14 new players eligible in 2023: Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltrán, Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, J.J. Hardy, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, Francisco Rodríguez, Huston Street, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth.
Fourteen former players returned to the ballot this year: Rolen, Todd Helton, Billy Wagner, Andruw Jones, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramírez, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Jimmy Rollins, Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle and Torii Hunter.
Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and 2006 World Series champion with the Cardinals, joins Chipper Jones as just the second third baseman who debuted in the last 40 years to be enshrined in Cooperstown. With his induction, Rolen becomes the 17th third baseman to enter the Hall of Fame.
First-time eligible players for the 2024 class could include José Bautista, Adrián Beltré, Bartolo Colón, Adrián González, Matt Holliday, Jim Johnson, Víctor Martínez, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, José Reyes, James Shields, Chase Utley, David Wright and Brad Ziegler.
Scott Rolen voted into Baseball Hall of Fame
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Why Rolen was voted in
Already a member of the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame, Rolen’s National Hall of Fame case had been gradually trending upward over the last couple of seasons. While his defensive prowess was never questionable, the strides baseball has made in regard to measuring defensive excellence certainly played into that. Though his eight-career Gold Gloves are notable enough, Rolen also compiled a 21.2 defensive WAR throughout his career and recorded 114 defensive runs saved from 2003 (when DRS became an official stat) until his retirement in 2012.
He never led any particular offensive category in any season in his career, but he surpassed 300 career home runs (316), 2,000 hits (2,077) and 500 doubles (517) and his 70.1 career WAR is the ninth-best mark amongst third basemen in the history of the sport. — Woo
Hall of Fame election: Stark’s 5 takeaways from Scott Rolen’s triumph and a historic vote
Helton just misses
Helton, the longtime Rockies’ first baseman, fell just 11 votes shy of election. Larry Walker, another Rockies great, was elected in 2020 on his 10th and final ballot with just six votes to spare above the 75 percent needed. And Walker seems to have paved a path for Helton, overcoming the perceived negatives of having played at Coors Field, a high-elevation park that can inflate some statistics.
Helton has now jumped near election in about half the amount of time that Walker needed. And, if history holds, Helton should expect election next year. Helton played his full 17-year career with the Rockies, helping lead them to the 2007 National League pennant. He finished his career with 369 home runs and 1,406 RBIs. He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger and three-time Gold Glove winner.
And by park-adjusted OPS+, Helton trails only Lou Gehrig, Jeff Bagwell, Willie McCovey, Albert Pujols and McGriff at first base. Removing Coors Field from the equation entirely, Helton had a higher road OPS than several Hall of Famers, including Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn and George Brett. — Groke
Which players got closer to enshrinement?
Aside from Rolen’s election, the other big mover was Helton, who went from 52 percent of the vote a year ago to 72.2 percent this year. Helton is in just his fifth year of Hall of Fame eligibility, so he should be a shoo-in to be elected in the future and even probably next year. Wagner, with two more shots at election, improved from 51 percent last year to 68.1 percent this year, improving his chances for eventual induction. Jones got 58.1 percent of the vote, up from 41.4 percent last year. Kent is the only player to extinguish his eligibility, falling short in his 10th and final ballot.
Rodriguez (35.7 percent) and Ramirez (33.2) made modest gains. Rodriguez is in his second year of eligibility, Ramirez his seventh. While Ramirez’s election seems unlikely with two more years on the ballot, Rodriguez is not as easily dismissed. Rodriguez’s vote total is slightly more than Rolen’s in his third year of eligibility (35.3), but less than either Roger Clemens (37.5) or Barry Bonds (36.8) in their third year on the ballot.
Beltrán’s involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal obviously impacted his vote total, but he did appear on 46.5 percent of the ballots. No player has debuted with more than 42 percent of the vote and not been elected. — Rosencrans
(Photo: G. N. Lowrance / Getty Images)