It took six tries and one harrowing result, but Scott Rolen is forever a Hall of Famer.
Rolen was named to baseball’s Hall of Fame Tuesday night earning a vote on 76.3% of ballots – just five more than needed to vault the 75% required for induction.
Rolen’s election averts a Hall of Fame shutout for the second time in three years and just the 10th time in nearly a century in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Assn. of America.
Rolen was named on 297 ballots, five more than the 292 required for election among the 389 submitted. Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton wasn’t quite as fortunate: He was named on 281 of 389 ballots – just 11 shy of induction. Helton’s 72.3% vote total in just his fifth year on the ballot all but cinches his eventual election, with five more shots at it to come.
Relief pitcher Billy Wagner also knocked on the door – garnering 265 votes, or 68.1%.
Rolen’s nod means slugger Fred McGriff will have company during annual induction ceremonies in Cooperstown, New York on July 23. McGriff, whose highest vote total on the writers’ ballot was 39.8%, was voted in by the Hall’s Contemporary Era Committee in December.
What’s next for ballot holdovers?
Like McGriff, Helton and Wagner will have 10 chances to earn induction from the writers and although they came up short Tuesday, should earn induction in one of their final shots on the ballot. Rolen received just 10.2% of the vote in his first year on the ballot, but it doubled to 35.3% in his third year and reached 62% in 2022, all trends pointing toward his eventual induction.
Helton (five more attempts) and Wagner (two more shots) should be similarly heartened. Center fielder Andruw Jones – who hit 434 home runs and claimed 10 Gold Gloves – also saw a nice bump, leaping from 41.4% to 58.1% in this, his sixth year.
Rolen had just one top 10 MVP finish – fourth in 2004 – but was a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover for the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. He was a World Series champion with the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
Rolen’s 70.1 career Wins Above Replacement ranks tied for 69th and puts him ahead of several Hall of Famers, the high number a testament to modern metrics’ ability to better quantify Rolen’s all-around value to his teams.
Oddly enough, Rolen is tied in career WAR with Carlos Beltran, who made his ballot debut and received 46.5% of the votes, a somewhat discouraging but not…