It finally happened. In his sixth year of eligibility, former Cincinnati Reds third baseman and eight-time Gold Glover Scott Rolen finally made it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame – and he's nearly peerless this year.
Rolen punched his Cooperstown ticket on Jan. 24 with 297 votes, or 76.3% of the vote, from eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). For induction, players must receive at least 75% of that year’s vote .
In 2022, Rolen received 63.2%. Baseball insiders had predicted that 2023 would be his year.
The 47-year-old Rolen was the only former player that BBWAA members elected into the 2023 class. He'll be inducted into the hall during a July 23 ceremony alongside Fred McGriff, who played 19 seasons during the 1980s, 19902 and early 2000s and was elected by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee in December.
The Hall of Fame’s eligibility rules are somewhat complex and have different exceptions or classifications, but essentially, players must be retired from the game for at least five years, must have played in the majors for at least 10 seasons that touch some part of the last 15 years and must not be on the MLB commissioner’s “permanently ineligible” list (which is why Pete Rose will not be considered for the Hall of Fame). Players who meet the criteria generally are eligible for election for 10 years, though there also are avenues for enshrinement through other eras or committees, such as the one that added McGriff.
Rolen could enter the hall wearing the hat of any team he's played for: Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays or Cincinnati Reds. He also may enter with a blank (seamless) cap. Rolen largely is expected to be enshrined as a Cardinal or Phillie, though he finished his career in Cincinnati.
"Rolen was a key figure in the rebuilding efforts in Cincinnati during that time, leading the way for young stars such as Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Johnny Cueto on Reds teams that won the NL Central Division title in 2010 and 2012," a Jan. 24 email from the Reds said.
Speaking of Votto, the Reds' chess-playing, rehabbing first baseman posted a story to Instagram congratulating Rolen.
"Scott would think this is so lame, me doing this on video and sharing it with the public, but I have to say a big congratulations to my former teammate Scott Rolen, AKA 'Ro-Dog,'" Votto said, yipping like a pooch. "I loved playing with him. I learned so much. If any player's lucky enough to have a role model and teammate like him, they're as lucky as it gets. I shaped my career, my effort, my work in his mold. He's a Hall of Famer today, deserving, and I have nothing but respect for him and his achievements. Scott, good job, buddy."
There were a total of 28 candidates on the 2023 Hall of Fame ballot, with 14 of them being first-timers. Former Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo was on the ballot for the first time this year but earned only one vote and will not be considered in the future. To remain on the ballot, candidates must earn at least 5% of the vote. Arroyo was one of five players to receive one tally; seven players received zero votes.
Arroyo will be inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in July.
Scott Rolen's Cincinnati milestonesRolen joined the Reds in 2009, playing through 2012 at the corner before retiring. While in Cincinnati, Rolen hit his 300th career home run and helped the team win the Central Division – something that Cincinnati hadn’t seen in 15 seasons prior. He also earned one of his eight National League Gold Gloves and was an MLB All Star in 2010 and 2011 (he’d earned the honor five additional times elsewhere) during his time in the Queen City.
Known for his hustle and reliability, Rolen is right up there with third basemen already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Over his career, he tallied a .490 slugging percentage (fourth-best), 517 doubles (fifth), 2023 games (sixth), 316 homers (sixth) and .855 slugging (sixth). Rolen is one of just four third basemen ever to compile at least 2,000 hits, 500 doubles, 300 home runs and 1,200 RBI, and he’s one of just three players at any position to post those stats.
Rolen played a total of 17 years in the majors, nabbing the National League Rookie of the Year award when he came up with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1997. His most celebrated years came with the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he won a World Series in 2006. Despite a shoulder injury, he and first baseman Albert Pujols regularly were credited with leading the team’s success during that era.
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