MLB

Eight-time Gold Glove 3B Scott Rolen is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Eight-time Gold Glove 3B Scott Rolen is headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Scott Rolen has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, preventing a shout on the BBWAA ballot for the second time in three years.

None of the other 27 players on the 2023 Hall ballot cleared the 75 percent threshold for selection, though there were a couple of near misses. The results of the vote were revealed Tuesday during a broadcast on MLB.com.

Longtime third baseman Rolen was named on 76.3% of the ballots cast in his sixth year of eligibility for the enshrinement. All that was missing was former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who received 72.2% of the ballots in his fifth attempt at election.

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

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 the fourth most for a third baseman. The 1997 NL Rookie of the Year was a member of the Cardinals when 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 percent of the ballots in his first year of eligibility in 2018, but gaining support quickly with each passing voting cycle.

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

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

Wagner, one of the most dominant relievers of his era, has steadily gained support during his years at the polls. Last year he got support in 51% of the ballots. Next year will be his ninth season of eligibility.

Rolen’s limited choices meant that the BBWAA has yet to elect a new member just nine times in the voting’s 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 stretch in which the BBWAA has picked just two players matches an all-time low. Since the annual vote was made permanent in 1966, the writers have never failed to select at least two players in any three-year period. They also picked just two players in the three-year stretches ending in 1968 and in each season from 1996 to 1998.

Ironically, the electorate shortage comes just a few years after a prolific writer-voting period. During the three-year period ending in 2019, the BBWAA elected 11 new Hall of Famers, and during the five-year period from 2015 to 2019, the writers inducted 17 new Hall of Famers.

Unlike in 2021, when the writers or a committee of the year did not elect new Hall of Famers — the first time since 1960 that had happened — there will be at least two new inductees giving speeches in Cooperstown during the ceremonies investiture on July 23. Fred McGriff will be inducted into the Hall alongside Rolen after being selected by an all-time committee at the December Winter Meetings in San Diego.

Progress was slow for a few more controversial candidates whose performance meets traditional Hall of Fame standards but have seen their cases undermined by associations with PEDs.

Àlex Rodríguez, who had grand totals of 3,115 hits, 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, was named on 35.7% of the ballots in his second year of eligibility, up from 34.3%. Rodriguez missed 2014 under suspension for violating MLB’s PED policies.

Similarly, Manny Ramirez, who hit 555 homers while amassing 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 around.

Conversely, fearsome slugger Sheffield picked up some momentum in his ninth year of eligibility. It was 40.6% last year. Sheffield, who hit 509 career home runs but was named to the 2007 Mitchell Report, was never disciplined for using PEDs. The upcoming season will be his 10th and final chance to earn an election through the writers’ vote.

Among the 14 first-timers, only two received the necessary 5% support to be moved for consideration the next time.

One of those first was Carlos Beltrán, who got 46.5% of the ballots. Beltran Hall’s case is strong on the merits of a career that saw 435 homers, 312 steals, 2,725 hits and one of baseball’s brightest postseason records.

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

While it’s unclear what role the scandal played in Beltran’s first-ballot demise, his level of support bodes well for the future and, perhaps, for other candidacies down the line standouts from that Astros squad.

The other starter who will remain on the ballot is reliever Francisco Rodríguez, whose 437 saves were enough for 10.8% of the ballots.

While voters have been thin in recent years, next year could see a more active induction week with a number of interesting candidates who will be eligible next winter. The list of newcomers is headlined by third baseman Adrian Beltre, catcher Joe Mauer and second baseman Chase Utley.



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