By Katie Woo, C Trent Rosecrans and Nick Groke
Scott Rolen is a Hall of Famer. The 17 big league season veteran was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), the Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday. Rolen was the only player who received enough votes to qualify for anchoring. Here’s what you need to know:
- In the sixth election this year, Rolen received the most votes of any returnee from last year, receiving 76.3 percent in 2023 after receiving 63.2 percent of the 394 votes cast in 2022.
- Rolen was elected to the Hall of Fame with five votes. He joins six other players who made it by such a small margin.
- Rolen played 17 seasons in MLB with the Phillies, Cardinals, Reds and Blue Jays. He has 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 in the 2023 election. Eligible players need 75 percent of that to have their name inducted into the Hall of Fame. They will be removed from the ballot if they receive less than 5 percent or have been on the ballot 10 times with no choice.
In 2023, 14 new players were eligible: Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltrán, Matt Cain, RA Dickey, Jacoby Ellsbury, Andre Ethier, JJ Hardy, John Lackey, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta, Francisco Rodríguez, Huston Street, Jered Weaver and Jayson Werth.
Fourteen former players returned for voting 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, is only the second third baseman alongside Chipper Jones to debut in the last 40 years to be anchored at Cooperstown. With his induction, Rolen becomes the 17th third baseman to be inducted into 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, Victor Martínez, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, José Reyes, James Shields, Chase Utley, David Wright, and others belong to Brad Ziegler.
Scott Rolen was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Why Rolen was chosen
Rolen was already an inductee of the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame, the fall of the National Hall of Fame has been gradually upward for the past few seasons. While his defensive prowess has never been questioned, the strides baseball has made in terms of measuring defensive excellence certainly played a role. Though his eight-career Gold Gloves are notable enough, Rolen has also compiled a 21.2 defensive WAR and recorded 114 defensive runs throughout his career, running from 2003 (when DRS became an official statistic) until his retirement in were saved in 2012.
He has never led any specific offensive category in his career, but he has surpassed 300 career homers (316), 2,000 hits (2,077) and 500 doubles (517), and his 70.1 career WAR is the ninth-best mark among the third basemen in the history of the sport. — Woo
Hall of Famer Election: Stark’s 5 takeaways from Scott Rolen’s triumph and a historic vote
Helton just misses
Helton, the Rockies’ longtime first baseman, lost just 11 votes before the election. Larry Walker, another Rockies great, was elected in 2020 on his 10th and final ballot with just six votes over the required 75 percent. And Walker appears to have paved a path for Helton, overcoming the perceived disadvantages of playing at Coors Field, a high-altitude park that can inflate some stats.
Helton has now jumped close to the choice in about half the time it took Walker. And if history holds up, Helton should expect an election next year. Helton played his entire 17-year career with the Rockies and helped guide them to the 2007 National League pennant. He finished his career with 369 homers and 1,406 RBIs. He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Gold Glove winner.
And after Park-adjusted OPS+, Helton is behind only Lou Gehrig, Jeff Bagwell, Willie McCovey, Albert Pujols and McGriff at first base. Without Coors Field out of the equation, Helton had higher street OPS than several Hall of Famers including Dave Winfield, Eddie Murray, Rickey Henderson, Tony Gwynn and George Brett. – grocke
Which players have come closer to anchoring?
Aside from Rolen’s election, the other big climber was Helton, who rose from 52 percent of the vote a year ago to 72.2 percent this year. Helton is in his fifth year of Hall of Fame eligibility so he should be a shoo-in to be elected in the future and probably even next year. Wagner, with two more shots in the election, improved from 51 percent last year to 68.1 percent this year, improving his chances of eventual introduction. Jones received 58.1 percent of the vote, up from 41.4 percent a year earlier. Kent is the only player to lose his eligibility, coming up short on his 10th and final ballot.
Rodriguez (35.7 percent) and Ramirez (33.2 percent) made modest gains. Rodriguez is in his second year of eligibility and Ramirez is in his seventh. While Ramirez’s election seems unlikely after two more electoral years, Rodriguez isn’t going to be fired that easily. Rodriguez’s vote count is slightly higher than Rolen’s in his third year on the ballot (35.3) but lower 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-theft scandal obviously affected his vote count, but he appeared on 46.5 percent of the ballots. No player has debuted with more than 42 percent of the vote and not been selected. — Rosencrans
(Photo: GN Lowrance / Getty Images)