October 2, 2012; St. Louis, MO. USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen (27) fields a ground ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Busch Stadium. The Reds won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

If Cincinnati Reds’ Scott Rolen Retires Now, Can He Make it To the Hall of Fame ?


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:

 

PLAYER YRS G AB R H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS+
Scott Rolen 17 2038 7398 1211 2077 316 1287 .281 0.364 .490 122

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!

If Rolen retires now, is he a HOFer?

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  • metalhead65

    it all depends if he still wants to be a full time player. his best chance would be to come back to the because no matter what they say you know the min. Frazier has a ofer he will be on the bench and rolen will be the starter. that is until his back gives out again. but rest assured dusty will make sure he gets his playing time weather he is helping the reds or not. I can hear it now,we gotta get Scottie going!

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      I don’t know I believe Rolen has waited so long now even Dusty is getting bored with the idea. His health will not permit him to play another meaningful year. So, do you think he can make it on what he has done?

      • metalhead65

        no I don’t think so. he was a very good player but was injured to much to put the numbers to make him a hof.

        • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

          I understand he has been injured a lot in the last few years. In fact he only played 125+ games in 10 of his 17 seasons. Good point, however I believe, as I pointed out, that his numbers blend right in with the current crew of hall of famers.

          Thanks my friend.

  • Double_Up

    So no, then. He needs another solid two years, at least.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      What is two more years going to do for him? There are 3B in the HOF now with less time than he has had. You’ll have to do better than that for a reason.

      • Double_Up

        The O isn’t there. Even Ozzie had some strong years, eventually. Good glove but no marvel, good hitter but not ever that good. More of a Dale Murphy candidate.

        • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

          The Problem for Murphy is that he was an outfielder. There are tons of them in the HOF. Much less is required of a third baseman, not to mention there are not that many great ones.
          Thanks for your comments my friend

          • Double_Up

            O as in offense, thanks for your comments too. It adds to the conversation well.

          • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

            Just to follow up, Ozzie really only had one really good season offensively.In ’87 he batted .303 but he didn’t even hit one homer that year. Rolen until recently has been pretty consistent when he has played.

        • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

          You lost me, O isn’t where? If you are talking the HOF, he sure is there. He is a career .262 hitter

  • Bob

    As of now he isn’t even a borderline HOFer, in my opinion. How could he be when Fred McGriff isn’t? Even Biggio was snubbed with 3,000 hits, thought he’ll get in eventually.

    • Cliff@RedsToTheBone

      Thanks for the comment but how can you say he isn’t EVEN borderline? First, The Crime Dog was a First Baseman. Go count the ones who are in. Then there is Biggio, what is he, Catcher, 2B, CF?

      Rolen has the exact, did you read that, exact same WAR as Santo. His is higher than McGriff and Biggio. I am NOT even a SABR guy, just sayin.

      I will wait patiently for your reply to that.