A golden glove and an underrated bat: Here is what makes Scott Rolen a Corridor of Famer

Congrats to Scott Rolen, who will be a part of Fred McGriff on induction day in Cooperstown, New York, this July as the most recent members of the Baseball Corridor of Fame. Rolen made electoral historical past along with his choice: He now has the bottom first-year vote proportion — simply 10.2% — of any participant to ultimately get to the 75% required from the writers since fashionable voting procedures started in 1966.

Rolen’s meteoric rise over six ballots has some followers questioning … effectively, to place it politely, what the heck is occurring right here. Scott Rolen?!? For them, he does not go the “eye take a look at” for Corridor of Fame standing — a take a look at that normally appears to high out with the likes of Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Johnny Bench and Ken Griffey Jr., as if the Corridor of Fame ought to solely elect essentially the most indeniable of candidates.

With that thoughts, allow us to dig into Rolen’s profession somewhat bit. Listed below are six causes he’s headed to Cooperstown.

1. His WAR is Corridor-worthy.

We’ll begin along with his profession WAR. Sure, it isn’t the Corridor of WAR, but it surely’s an affordable place to begin that helps clarify why the baseball writers bought round to supporting Rolen. The Corridor of Fame has at all times been about electing the finest gamers — some mixture of profession worth and peak excellence. WAR is a information to profession worth and helps us assess a participant extra successfully than counting on the attention take a look at or a intestine feeling. No, it isn’t the entire reply, but it surely’s an necessary a part of the equation and provides us context past numbers like hits or dwelling runs that ignore place or protection.

Rolen’s profession WAR of 70.1 matches proper in with latest Corridor of Fame alternatives, effectively above even the bottom bar of gamers elected. I checked out all Baseball Writers’ Affiliation of America alternatives since 2000 — ignoring reduction pitchers (who’ve decrease WAR totals) and veterans committee alternatives (since committees take the leftovers the writers fail to elect). Together with Rolen, that provides us a listing of 39 Corridor of Famers.

Their common WAR is 73.4. Rolen comes proper smack within the center: 19 gamers have extra profession WAR, and 19 have much less. He’s squeezed in between Gary Carter and Tim Raines.

2. He’s the ninth-best third baseman of all time.

Of the eight gamers forward of Rolen in WAR on the place, seven are within the Corridor of Fame and the eighth is Adrian Beltre, who hits the poll subsequent 12 months. There are a number of Corridor of Famers under him, together with Residence Run Baker, Jimmy Collins, Pie Traynor and George Kell — a reminder that you do not have to be Mike Schmidt or George Brett to make it.

Rolen’s worth is sort of the dividing line between the Corridor of Famers and different extra fashionable third basemen who did not get in, together with Ken Boyer, Darrell Evans and Graig Nettles (all glorious two-way gamers).

Here is one other approach to have a look at it. MLB Community ran a listing of the ninth-best gamers at every place:

C – Joe Mauer (55.2)

1B – Willie McCovey (64.5)

2B – Roberto Alomar (67.0)

SS – Pee Wee Reese (68.4)

3B – Scott Rolen (70.1)

LF – Willie Stargell (57.5)

CF – Richie Ashburn (64.2)

RF – Tony Gwynn (69.2)

That is fairly good firm for those who ask me. All are Corridor of Famers apart from Mauer, who will not be but eligible (and joins Beltre on the poll subsequent 12 months). No, these aren’t essentially gamers seen as inner-circle Corridor of Famers, except Gwynn, but it surely’s a powerful record of well-qualified Corridor of Famers.

3. Sure, his protection was that good.

Rolen’s WAR is boosted by sturdy defensive metrics; however if you wish to imagine within the eye take a look at, then his protection additionally passes with Secretariat-like flourish. He received eight Gold Gloves, which speaks to how his D was seen whereas energetic. Going again into the contemporaneous accounts, some commentary:

  • Tony La Russa known as Rolen one of the best defensive third baseman he had ever seen. “I instructed him as soon as, my happiest day can be if there is a sport the place 27 floor balls get to 3rd base,” La Russa mentioned in 2002. “The way in which he performs that place, the way in which he runs the bases, the way in which he takes his at-bats, he’s an entire participant.”

  • Mike Schmidt, who received 10 Gold Gloves, mentioned in 2004 that Rolen is “higher than me.”

  • Dusty Baker, Rolen’s supervisor in Cincinnati: “He has one of many truest throws to first I’ve seen.”

  • Jim Fregosi, Rolen’s first supervisor within the majors: “He is bought extra vary than any of our shortstops.”

  • Terry Francona, Rolen’s supervisor with the Phillies, when requested if Rolen may play shortstop: “He is protecting quick now.”

The anecdotal proof backs up the statistical measurements. Rolen was the Nolan Arenado of his era.

4. His hitting was higher than you notice.

We’ll begin with some old-school stats. It is honest to say that Rolen’s counting stats do not scream tremendous loud, largely as a result of he did miss important time with accidents in his 30s. Nonetheless, amongst third basemen (who performed at the least 50% of their video games on the place), he’s:

Tied for fifteenth in dwelling runs (one much less profession lengthy ball than George Brett)

For price stats (minimal 6,000 plate appearances), he’s:

  • Seventh in OPS (his OPS was .855; Brett’s was .857)

  • twelfth in OPS+ (122, the identical as fellow Corridor of Famers Ernie Banks, Paul Molitor and Tony Perez)

  • Seventh in slugging proportion

All of it provides as much as a borderline top-10 offensive third basemen and one of many best defensive third basemen of all time. (Baseball-Reference’s fielding metrics credit score solely Brooks Robinson and Adrian Beltre with extra fielding runs at third base.) That is why Rolen is high 10 on the place, and in my ebook, for those who’re high 10, you are a Corridor of Famer.

A part of the important thing right here: Third base is the last word hybrid place: some offense and a few protection. It’s a purpose that it is the most underrepresented place in Cooperstown. It is a tough place to guage.

5. He was underrated in his personal time.

One of many anti-Rolen arguments is that his solely top-10 MVP end got here in 2004, when he completed fourth. However that is sort of the purpose to every thing right here: We’re smarter than we was, higher at understanding why groups win and lose baseball video games than we have been in 1997, when Rolen was named Nationwide League Rookie of the 12 months. Rolen’s preliminary years have been spent on unhealthy Phillies groups; his first 4 Philadelphia groups averaged 91 losses, which did not assist him get plenty of recognition early on. Protection has at all times been an underappreciated artwork, and each gifted defensive third basemen since Brooks Robinson has performed in his shadow and barely will get sufficient credit score. (Though Nolan Arenado is lastly breaking that development, partly as a result of it has been almost 50 years since Robinson performed, in order that shadow is lastly waning.)

From 1997 to 2004, his eight-year peak, Rolen was third in WAR, behind Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. In uncooked batting totals, he was eighth in doubles, 14th in RBIs, seventeenth in runs and twenty third in dwelling runs. I am not advocating that he ought to have received a number of MVP awards, and he wasn’t a top-10 hitter within the sport (besides 2004), however he was an excellent, productive hitter who was one of many sport’s finest all-around gamers for eight seasons and nonetheless a strong participant after that. We simply did not understand how good on the time.

6. Joey Votto agrees.

“I liked taking part in with him,” his former Reds teammate mentioned in a video posted on social media. “I discovered a lot. If any participant is fortunate sufficient to have a job mannequin and a teammate like him, they’re as fortunate because it will get. I formed my profession, my effort, my work in his mildew. He is a Corridor of Famer right now. Deserving. And I’ve nothing however respect for him and his achievements.”

Is Rolen a slam dunk Corridor of Famer? In fact not. However one query that’s price asking about each Corridor candidate: Does a participant increase or decrease the present Corridor of Fame requirements? Rolen raises the requirements.

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