baseball

Scott Rolen elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by just five votes

Scott Rolen’s status as the best third baseman of his era earned him baseball’s ultimate individual recognition Tuesday.

The former defensive whiz was elected to the Hall of Fame, after receiving 76.3 percent of the votes cast by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. For the second straight year, the BBWAA elected only one candidate.

Rolen won eight Gold Glove awards and was selected to seven All-Star teams during a 17-year career with the Phillies, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Reds. He finished with 316 home runs and batted .281 with a career OPS of .854.

Todd Helton (72.2 percent) and Billy Wagner (68.1 percent) were the closest to joining Rolen in this year’s BBWAA Hall of Fame class. A candidate needs 75 percent of the vote for induction. Rolen, in his sixth year on the ballot, had a five-vote margin of success.

Fred McGriff, who was voted in last month by the Contemporary Era Committee, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame with Rolen on July 23. David Ortiz was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA last year.


Scott Rolen will be enshrined in Cooperstown this year as the lone entrant voted in by the BBWAA.
GettyImages

Rolen’s 70.1 bWAR ranks 10th all time among third basemen. His eight Gold Gloves rank fourth among players at the position. He is only the 18th third baseman elected to the Hall of Fame.

“I really took a lot of pride defensively,” Rolen said. “I really work daily…if the ball hits you, it affects your team immediately. It affects your pitcher. It affects your team. You save runs, you do a bunch of things.”

Rolen, who won a World Series with the 2006 Cardinals, indicated it was unclear to him which cap will be displayed on his Hall of Fame plaque. Rolen was the National League Rookie of the Year with the Phillies in 1997.


Hall of Fame
New York Post writers’ Hall of Fame ballots.
Post photo illustration

In his first year on the ballot (2018), Rolen received only 10.2 percent of the vote. Larry Walker and Rolen are the only players since Bob Lemon in 1964 elected to the Hall of Fame after receiving less than 12 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility.

“There was never a point in my life I thought I was going to be a Hall of Fame baseball player,” Rolen said.

The next wave of misses behind Helton and Wagner included Andruw Jones (58.1 percent), Gary Sheffield (55 percent) and Carlos Beltran (46.5 percent). Helton, the former Rockies first baseman, still has five years remaining on the ballot.

Beltran, a former Mets and Yankees outfielder, was in his debut season on the ballot. His candidacy might have suffered due to his role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scheme. But Beltran also has history on his side: every candidate who has topped 42 percent in the first year on the ballot has ultimately been elected to the Hall of Fame.

Jeff Kent, whose career included a stint with the Mets, fell off the ballot after receiving 46.1 percent of the vote in his 10th and final year of eligibility.

In his eighth year on the ballot, Wagner, a former Mets closer, continued his climb with a 17.1 percent jump. Last year the left-hander received 51 percent of the vote. He has two opportunities remaining on the BBWAA ballot to reach the 75 percent threshold.

“We are trending in the right direction,” Wagner told The Post. “I won’t lie to you: This is a very tough process to get through, but I am very pleased and over the next two years maybe I have fat enough wheels to get the extra votes to get in.”

Wagner said he was happy for Rolen, against whom he competed for many years in the National League.

“Scott was a great player for a long time — his longevity, his grit,” Wagner said. Brooks Robinson-like acrobatic plays, his hard-nosed nature and demeanor. He was always tough out. It was always a battle when we competed.”

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