Third baseman Scott Rolen received 10 percent of the vote his first time on the Hall of Fame ballot. The numbers indicate he deserves better when the results are announced on January. 22.
This year, Bill James introduced a new Hall of Fame Value Standard in the 2019 Baseball Handbook (excerpted here). The methodology combines James’ Win Shares metric with four times Wins Above Replacement into one number. The cutoff score for Hall of Fame worthiness is 500.
Rolen clears the bar with a score of 584.7. That’s not quite Chipper Jones (756.8) or Adrián Beltré territory (755.9), but it’s enough to be deemed induction worthy. Rolen’s total is higher than another player hoping for induction, Edgar Martínez.
Martínez received 70 percent of the vote last year. As noted above, Rolen wasn’t close to that. Rolen, like Martínez, also rates better in the Hall-of-Fame Value Standard than a couple of his contemporaries, recently-elected Hall-of-Famers Mike Piazza (562.2) and Vladimir Guerrero (561.8).
There are a couple of things working against Rolen. One is that the Hall of Fame has historically been tough on third basemen. There have been only 17 enshrined, the fewest of any position on the diamond (catcher ranks second with 18). The other is that injuries significantly limited his ability at the end of his career and thus his offensive numbers are not as gaudy as some of his contemporaries. They were still quite good — .281/.364/.490 with 316 home runs.
But even playing through injuries, Rolen was a defensive superstar. He ranks second among third baseman in Defensive Runs Saved at the position, even though the stat has only been compiled since 2003 (and thus misses his first seven seasons). Rolen is also one of three third basemen to total 30 Defensive Runs Saved in a season, along with Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado. Rolen won eight Gold Glove Awards and made seven All-Star teams.
In short, Rolen was probably better than you remember him. As James himself wrote:
“Scott Rolen seems to be to have been a well-qualified Hall of Famer in every respect, a great offensive and defensive performer.”
|Hall of Fame Value Standard – Primary Position: 3B|
|1. Mike Schmidt*||894.2|
|2. Eddie Mathews*||836.6|
|3. George Brett*||786.6|
|4. Wade Boggs*||759.7|
|5. Chipper Jones*||756.8|
|6. Adrián Beltré||755.9|
|7. Brooks Robinson*||669.6|
|8. Ron Santo*||606.1|
|9. Darrell Evans||599.7|
|10. Graig Nettles||592.9|
|11. Scott Rolen||584.7|
|12. Buddy Bell||566.4|