There is a new member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Baseball Writers Association of America has voted Scott Rolen into Cooperstown, it was announced Tuesday. Fred McGriff, who was voted into Cooperstown unanimously by the 16-person Contemporary Era Committee in December, is the other member of this year's two-person 2023 Hall of Fame class.
Rolen was one of 28 players on the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballot this year. He appeared on 76.3 percent of submitted ballots and finished only five votes above the 75 percent threshold needed for induction. Here are Rolen's voting percentages in his six years on the BBWAA's ballot:
- 2018: 10.2 percent (lowest first year percentage for any player ever voted in)
- 2019: 17.2 percent
- 2020: 35.3 percent
- 2021: 52.9 percent
- 2022: 63.2 percent (highest among players not voted in)
- 2023: 76.3 percent
Rolen is the 18th third baseman in the Hall of Fame. Thus far, he and Chipper Jones are the only full-time third basemen to begin their careers after 1982 to be voted into Cooperstown.
In parts of 17 MLB seasons from 1996-2012, Rolen authored a .281/.364/.490 batting line with 2,077 hits and 316 home runs. That includes a .298/.380/.532 batting line during his seven-year peak from 1998-2004. Rolen was also a brilliant defender who won eight Gold Gloves. He retired with 70.1 WAR, tenth all-time among third basemen, and went to seven All-Star Games while receiving MVP votes in four seasons. Rolen was also the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year.
"On behalf of the Phillies, I want to congratulate Scott Rolen on his election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a player. He richly deserves this award," Phillies owner John Middleton said in a statement. "Philadelphia was privileged to have witnessed the beginning of his extraordinary baseball career. In addition to being one of the most impactful offensive and defensive players of his era, Scott played the game the right way. Whether taking an extra base with a headfirst slide or diving for a ball in the hole, his hard-nosed effort and selfless attitude resonated with our fans. Along with his on-field contributions, Scott was a great teammate and a tremendous representative of the Phillies off the field.
We'll soon find out whether Rolen will wear a Philadelphia Phillies or St. Louis Cardinals cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, though he didn't have a choice in mind Tuesday night. A blank cap is also possible. Rolen played more games with the Phillies than he did the Cardinals (844 vs. 661), though he had more All-Star Game selections with the Cardinals (four vs. one), and also finished fourth in the NL MVP voting with St. Louis in 2004. Rolen also played for the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds late in his career.
"On behalf of the entire St. Louis Cardinals organization, I would like to congratulate Scott Rolen on the well-deserved honor of being selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame," Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement. "Scott was a cornerstone of our infield and lineup during his six seasons in St. Louis, and helped create many fond memories as part of the great Cardinals teams of the mid-2000s."
Nearly 400 votes were cast this year and the full voting results are available at the BBWAA's site. Here are the top five vote-getters:
- Scott Rolen: 76.3 percent
- Todd Helton: 72.2 percent (11 votes short of induction)
- Billy Wagner: 68.1 percent
- Andruw Jones: 58.1 percent
- Gary Sheffield: 55.0 percent
Helton (five more years), Jones (four more years), and Wagner (two years) have all made steady gains the last few years and are trending toward induction before their 10 years on the BBWAA's ballot are up.
This was the tenth and final year on the BBWAA's ballot for Jeff Kent, who received 46.5 percent of the vote. Historically, players in their final year on the ballot get a boost in support, though the final year jump wasn't enough to get Kent in. He can be considered for the Hall of Fame again when the Contemporary Era Committee holds their next player vote in December 2025.
Sheffield will the be lone player on the BBWAA's ballot for the final time next year. Manny Ramírez and Álex Rodríguez, two players with Hall of Fame credentials who are unlikely to get into Cooperstown given their performance-enhancing drug suspensions, will be on the ballot for the eighth time and third time next year, respectively. A-Rod received 35.7 percent of the vote this year. Ramírez was at 33.2 percent.
Carlos Beltrán was the only first-timer on the ballot to receive even 15 percent of the vote. He finished at 46.5 percent, which bodes well for the future since he can remain on the ballot for another nine years. That said, Beltrán was identified as a ringleader in the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal. That may hurt his Hall of Fame candidacy and ultimately keep him out of Cooperstown.
Players must receive at least 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot another year. John Lackey, Huston Street, and former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey are among the notables to fall short of the 5 percent threshold this year.