The BBWA revealed the results of the Hall of Fame voting Tuesday, and for the second year in a row, only one player was elected: third baseman Scott Rolen.
Rolen received 76.3% support in his sixth year on the ballot, joining Fred McGriff in this year’s class of inductees to the Hall of Fame. Recognized as one of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time, and certainly of his era, he won eight Gold Glove Awards during his 17-year career with seven All-Star Game appearances.
Perhaps as a result of deriving much of his value on defense, Rolen was something of an under-the-radar superstar during his career, even with Hall of Fame credentials. With that in mind, here are some things you might not know about Cooperstown’s newest resident.
Rolen started and ended his career against the Cardinals
Rolen has dressed for four different franchises during his career, but he is perhaps best remembered for his exploits as a Redbird. Four of his seven All-Star Game nominations came while he was playing for St. Louis, and he won his only World Series ring with the cardinals in 2006. He recorded his most games with the Phillies (844), followed by St. Louis (661), the Reds (330) and the Blue Jays (203).
But while he neither began nor ended his career as a cardinal, he did both. against The Cardinals Rolen debuted with the Phillies on August 1, 1996, playing in both games of a doubleheader against St. Louis. He went 1 for 7 combined with a walk, a double and two strikeouts. His final game of the regular season came on October 3, 2012, when Rolen’s Reds lost 1–0 at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati reached the postseason that year, losing to the Giants in the NLDS. But it’s fitting that Rolen’s career has been reserved for games against the franchise he once starred for.
Rolen turned down a Division I basketball scholarship after being drafted in 1993
Given the amazing athleticism he displayed with his many standout plays at third base, it’s perhaps no surprise that Rolen’s talents weren’t limited to the baseball diamond. But it might come as a surprise to learn that, as a senior in high school, Rolen came in second in voting for Indiana’s prestigious Mr. Basketball award in 1993. His talents on the hard court earned him a scholarship to play basketball in Georgia, though he ultimately decided to call it quits after the Phillies selected him in the second round of the 1993 MLB draft.
Don’t worry about young Rolen’s trophy case, though: He was voted Indiana’s Mr. Baseball.
Rolen is the latest third baseman to win NL Rookie of the Year (sort of)
This is only half the truth. Since Rolen won the award in 1997, three others have received the honors occupying primarily the hot corner: Albert Pujols (’01), Ryan Braun (’07) and Kris Bryant (’15). But all three then switched to other positions, with Pujols moving to first base and Braun and Bryant moving to left field, so Rolen is last. permanent third base to carry out the feat. Rolen is also now the most recent Rookie of the Year winner to be elected to the Hall of Fame, winning the award a year after Derek Jeter in 1996.
Rolen is in rarefied company when it comes to aging third baseman.
Over the course of 17 seasons, Rolen played more than 17,000 defensive innings. Each of them reached third base. His elite defense allowed him to stay there for so long, but his bat also aged like fine wine. He hit .285/.358/.497 in 2010 at age 35, the season in which he won his last Gold Glove award. With a 125 OPS+, Rolen is one of 10 MLB third basemen since the turn of the 20th century to post such a high adjusted OPS at that age while he played in at least 100 games at hot corner. Only one player has accomplished that feat since then: Adrián Beltré, who did it twice (’14 and ’16).
Rolen’s World Series resume is a testament to his perseverance.
Like any player, Rolen’s career, as successful as it was, was not without its struggles. Maybe no stat shows the stamina of him like this. Rolen appeared in two Fall Classics during his career: 2004 and 2006, both with the Cardinals. In his first trip, he went 0-for-15 when St. Louis was swept by the Red Sox. He more than made up for it two years later, going 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits as the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 24 years.