Eight-time Gold Glove 3B Scott Rolen makes Baseball Hall of Fame

Eight-time Gold Glove 3B Scott Rolen makes Baseball Hall of Fame

Scott Rolen has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, avoiding a BBWAA balloting shutout for the second time in three years.

None of the other 27 players on the 2023 Hall ballot reached the 75% electoral threshold, although there were a few near misses. The results of the balloting were revealed Tuesday during a broadcast on MLB.com.

Rolen, a longtime third baseman, was named on 76.3% of the votes cast in his sixth year of eligibility to be committed. Just missing was Todd Helton, former Rockies first baseman, who received support on 72.2% of the vote in his fifth election attempt.

Players can appear on the ballot for 10 seasons after a five-year waiting period after they retire, provided they are named on at least 5% of the ballot during a voting cycle.

“You don’t think about this,” Rolen said on MLB Network. “You think about doing your best, playing for your team and playing the game the best you can and there’s such a long way. I never thought the Hall of Fame would be the answer.”

Rolen was a seven-time All-Star during his 17-year career, playing for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. His eight gold gloves are fourth for a third baseman. The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year was a member of the Cardinals as the club won the 2006 World Series.

Rolen, who ranks fifth in WAR among career third basemen according to Baseball-Reference.com, was named on just 10.2% of the ballots during his first year of eligibility in 2018, but quickly gained support with every round of voting passed.

The same upward trajectory was true for Helton, which started 2019 with 16.5%. Helton was a .316 career hitter for 17 seasons, all spent with the Colorado Rockies, four-time Silver Slugger winner and three-time Gold Glover for his work at first base.

Other players named on at least half of the votes cast included Billy Wagner (68.1%), Andruw Jones (58.1%) and Gary Sheffield (55%).

Wagner, one of the most dominant enlighteners of his time, has steadily gained support. He earned support on 51% of the ballots last year. Next year will be his ninth season of eligibility.

Rolen’s narrow election means the BBWAA has still refused to elect new members, just nine times in ballot history. The writers also didn’t pick anyone in 2021. Last year, only Red Sox great David Ortiz was selected by the writers.

The three-year period in which the BBWAA has chosen only two players is an all-time low. Since the annual ballot became permanent in 1966, the writers had never failed to choose at least two players over a three-year period. They also chose only two players during the three-year period ending in 1968 and in every season from 1996 to 1998.

Ironically, the lack of voters comes only a few years after a certain prolific period of voting by the writers. During the three-year period ending in 2019, the BBWAA chose 11 new Hall members, and during the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, 17 new Hall of Famers were tagged by the writers.

Unlike 2021, when no new Hall of Famers were elected by the writers or an era committee — the first time since 1960 that had happened — at least two new inductees will speak in Cooperstown on July 23 at the induction ceremonies. The sweet-natured Fred McGriff will enter the hall with Rolen after being selected by an era committee at the December winter meetings in San Diego.

Progress has been slow for a few more controversial candidates, whose achievements meet traditional Hall of Fame standards, but their case has been undermined by associations with PEDs.

Alex Rodriguez, who scored huge career totals of 3,115 hits, 696 homers, and 2,086 RBIs, was named on 35.7% of the ballots during his second year of eligibility, down from 34.3%. Rodriguez missed the 2014 season under suspension for violating MLB’s PED policy.

Similarly, Manny Ramirez, who hit 555 home runs while rolling up a career .312 batting average but was suspended twice for PED violations, made little progress during his seventh time on the ballot. After landing at 28.9% last year, Ramirez moved up to 33.2% this time.

Conversely, the fearsome slugger Sheffield picked up a bit of momentum in his ninth year of eligibility. Last year it was 40.6%. Sheffield, who hit 509 homers but was named in the 2007 Mitchell Report, was never penalized for PED use. Next season will be his 10th and final chance to be elected via the writers’ ballot.

Of the 14 first-timers on the ballot, only two received the necessary 5% support to be considered next time.

One of those firsts was Carlos Beltran, who landed on 46.5% of the vote. Beltran’s Hall case is solid on a career-high 435 home runs, 312 steals, 2,725 hits, and one of baseball’s most scintillating postseason records.

Beltran was a central figure in the controversial sign-stealing scandal that tarnished the 2017 World Series title held by the Houston Astros, for whom Beltran played. His association with the controversy later led to his stepping down as manager of the New York Mets for his first season in that role.

While it’s uncertain what role the scandal played in Beltran missing out on his first ballot, his level of support bodes well for the future and perhaps future candidacies for other standouts on that Astros team.

The other first-timer to remain on the ballot is reliever Francisco Rodriguez, whose 437 saves were enough to get him to 10.8% of the vote.

While voters have been stingy in recent years, next year could see a more active induction week with some interesting candidates up for consideration. The list of newcomers is led by third baseman Adrian Beltre, catcher Joe Mauer and second baseman Chase Utley.

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