Scott Rolen is apparently still sitting on the fence as what he wants to do with his baseball career. Does he want to come back to the Reds, who will welcome him with open arms? Would he like to entertain whatever offer the Los Angeles Dodgers have for his services? He has said openly that if he plays he wants to stay in Cincinnati.
In my view Rolen is a borderline Hall of Famer. That is as of right now, not another sub-par year to spare. I have mentioned here on this site that I hate it when somebody says that a player is a “future Hall of Famer.” Yet, here I am asking you if Rolen will someday be enshrined with the baseball legends of days gone by.
He has just logged his 17th year in the annals and provided he quits right now I think he has a shot. But if he takes poet Dylan Thomas’ advice and “Do not go gently into the night,” I am afraid his plaque will not be made.
I must admit, even though I am a self-proclaimed baseball purist, it is titillating to engage in conversation about marginal players.
As a purist (forget that I am a homer), I would give you a quick two-thumbs down on Rolen. He has nowhere near 3,000 hits. He isn’t close to 500 HR and he doesn’t even have 1,300 RBI. He currently possesses a lifetime BA of .281 with 316 HR and 1,287 RBI.
He hasn’t won any offensive titles or crowns, he never was an MVP and never led the league in any category. He was, however, the National League Rookie of the Year in 1997 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He beat out Livan Hernandez, Andruw Jones and Vladimir Guerrero to score that hardware.
He was also the winner of the Silver Slugger award in 2002 and was named to six All-Star rosters from three different teams. Not enough to get in the Museum without a ticket, right?
Not so fast there, Mr. Baseball Writer of America.
Should not we take a look at his defense? I mean, were it not for his outstanding glove, Ozzie Smith doesn’t belong there much more than I. Yet, there he is and there he shall be.
Rolen does have eight Gold Glove awards, winning the last one in 2010 with the Reds. He trails only Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt in the number of years receiving that prestigious award. Robby had 16 and Schmidt had 10 and both are firmly entrenched in the Hall of Fame and baseball lore as well.
I am not an avid fan of sabrmetrics, but I will throw one at you for good measure. Rolen ranks fifth all time in total zone runs for third basemen with 150.
Let us recap what we now have. His offense is probably lacking so he can’t go in on that alone. His defense is superb and as good as it gets at the hot corner.
So, offense no and defense yes, yes?
Rolen appeared in two World Series while with the Cardinals. They were swept in 2004 by the Boston Red Sox and won in 2006 against the Detroit Tigers. Postseason is a team effort, but that notwithstanding, he has a ring on his hand.
Let us now scroll through the Hall of Fame roster and see who got there from the hot corner. Let’s just filter out pitchers and only use position players.
Out of 158 players, third basemen are the loneliest lot of all. There are only 14, or 8.8 percent Hall of Fame third basemen. Three of those gentlemen are from the Negro League and data is not available nor dependable. Even catchers, who can get in with .253 averages, have more with 16.
The last third baseman to be voted in (Negro League players notwithstanding) was Wade Boggs in 2005.
I designed a table for you to peruse but it was too large for this article. So here is Rolen’s career in a capsule:
Let me explain it the best way I can. If you throw Rolen in amongst the Hall of Fame brethren at the hot corner he stands his ground quite well sir.
With him in and the Negro League guys out you have a melting pot of 12 players. In BA and OBP Rolen is 9th out of 12. He comes in 3rd in SLG, 5th in OPS+, 4th in HR, 6th in RBI and 8th in HITS.
To summarize he is above the average mark in HR, RBI, SLG and OPS+. He looks very good all of a sudden.
The timing is right, wouldn’t you think?
You vote your way and I will vote mine. I must give him a big thumbs UP!