Scott Rolen was officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, NY — Scott Rolen, one of the most decorated third basemen of his era and a longtime St. Louis Cardinals catalyst, is officially inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Voters elected Rolen into the National Baseball Hall of Fame after his sixth go-around on the ballot. Rolen is only the 18th third baseman to receive a call to the hall, the least of any position.

Rolen offered top-notch production at the hot corner and in the batter’s box, popular for his defensive skills. He has won eight Gold Glove Awards over his 17-year career, including five consecutive NL titles from 2000 to 2004.

Rolen’s 21.4 dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement Rating) ranks among the top 50 MLB players of all time and the top 10 for primary third basemen. Since retiring in 2012, he has accumulated 114 defensive runs since the metric was introduced in 2003, despite struggling with some long-term injuries.

Defensive dominance has raised the bar for Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals’ third baseman, who recently won his tenth straight NL Gold Glove Award.

“When I was in Colorado, they said to me, ‘You have to see how he moves his feet,'” Arenado said during Winter Warm-Up. “The only thing I admire about Scott Rolen is that he’s so tall. You don’t realize how tall the man is until you get next to him. Being so good and agile and having a great arm is a tough thing I was always amazed at how big he was and moving so well.

In his prime, Rolen’s overall offensive numbers were about as good as anyone in the league not named Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. From 1998 through 2004, he hit at least 25 homers in seven straight seasons while also averaging 103 RBIs and a .287/.380/.532 slashline during that period.

Rolen’s 2004 season, which helped the Cardinals to an NL pennant, was undoubtedly his strongest. He hit career highs in home runs (34), RBIs (124), and batting average (.314). He finished fourth in MVP voting that season, just behind a teammate (Albert Pujols) and just ahead of another (Jim Edmonds). This year will be universally remembered among Cardinals fans as the MV3 year.

Bill DeWitt Jr., executive partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals, says the 2004 season brought a lot of excitement for the Cardinals. He adds that he hasn’t seen many third base players on the level of Rolen and Arenado.

“It’s pretty cool that we have these two players,” recalled DeWitt. “Rolen had his best years here.”

Rolen delivered on some crucial points for the Cardinals in playoff action. In 2004, he hit .310 with three homers in a seven-game NLCS round against the Houston Astros, including a late heroic homer on hit pitcher Roger Clemens that led St. Louis to the World Series. Two years later, on his next Fall Classic opportunity, he hit .421 and built on multiple rallies to help St. Louis end a quarter-century drought without a World Series title.

Born and raised in Evansville, Indiana, Rolen grew up near Cardinal territory. He made his MLB debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996 and was named NL Rookie of the Year the following year. The Cardinals acquired Rolen from the Phillies in July 2002 in a trade involving Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin and Bud Smith.

Rolen’s journey ended with a 70.1 WAR (ranked 103rd all-time) and seven All-Star nominations. He spent his last five seasons between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds. Rolen was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2019 and often attends inaugural ceremonies at Busch Stadium wearing a red jacket.

For Arenado, there is no debate about Rolen’s place in baseball history.

“I think he’s a Hall of Farmer. He deserves it,” Arenado said. “Scott is one of the legends here. He’s a Cardinal Hall of Famer for a reason. [I’m] try to follow in those footsteps.”

Arenado’s former Colorado teammate Todd Helton narrowly missed a Hall of Fame nod after five rounds on the ballot.

MLB players with 10 years of service can be inducted into the Hall of Fame five years after retirement. A player must receive 75% support, or typically more than 300 votes, among qualified voters to earn Hall of Fame status.

Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltrán was not inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Two other former cardinals on the ballot, John Lackey and Jhonny Peralta, are ineligible after failing to meet the five percent minimum threshold to remain eligible for the Hall.

Rolen and Fred McGriff (selected by a contemporary baseball committee) will be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame on July 23. Scott Rolen was officially inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Sarah Y. Kim

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