Scott Rolen and the New Hall of Fame

Well, awesome surprise, Scott Rolen DID get elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday night. I’ve got some thoughts about it, some of which may surprise you, but first, let’s go through the entire Hall of Fame ballot very quickly.

Scott Rolen, 76.3% — Elected by five votes.

Todd Helton, 72.2% — Missed by 11 votes.

Billy Wagner, 68.1% — He has two more years to get to 75%.

Andruw Jones, 58.1% — He made a nice jump from 44.1% and has some real momentum now.

Gary Sheffield, 55% — He jumped up from 40.6%, but he has only one year left and I can’t see him moving much next year. Veterans committee?

Carlos Beltran, 46.5% — Not a terrible debut, considering the cheating scandal. I think this might be similar to the Robbie Alomar situation, where voters made a first-year statement and then voted him in. We’ll see.

Jeff Kent, 46.5% — He made a decent jump in his last year. He seems to me a perfect veterans committee choice.

Alex Rodriguez, 35.7% — There was absolutely no movement for A-Rod. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Manny Ramirez, 33.2% — Only the slightest uptick for Manny.

Omar Vizquel, 19.5% — The fall of Omar continues. He was above 50% in 2020 and seemed a Hall of Fame lock. Now, he might fall off the ballot.

Andy Pettitte, 17% — A small rise from 11% last year, but I don’t think it was particularly meaningful. I’ve started to think that the threshold to stay on the ballot should go up every year — maybe 5% the first year, 10% the second year, 15% the third, etc.

Bobby Abreu, 15.4% — Hey, he about doubled his vote total. He’s a guy whose case could conceivably catch on.

Jimmy Rollins, 12.9% — There was not a lot of movement for Rollins, but at least he’s safe for next year’s ballot.

Mark Buehrle, 10.8% — He doubled his vote total. I think people are nostalgic for his kind of pitcher. I think the hope is that the new pitch clock will make the game more Buehrle, which is a good thing.

Francisco Rodriguez, 10.8% — It doesn’t seem like much, but K-Rod got a higher percentage than Billy Wagner got in his first or second year.

Torii Hunter, 6.9% — He just keeps on BARELY staying on the ballot.

Bronson Arroyo, 1 vote — A music fan, no doubt.

RA Dickey, 1 vote — One of the coolest stories in recent baseball history.

John Lackey, 1 vote — Hey, the guy was a bulldog.

Mike Napoli, 1 vote — Well, he could swat.

Huston Street, 1 vote — Fine reliever, I wouldn’t have guessed he’d be among the 1-vote guys.

Matt Cain, 0 votes — I would have guessed that someone would have voted for Cain.

Jacoby Ellsbury, 0 votes — In his short prime he was truly elite.

Andre Ethier, 0 votes — They’ll always love him in Los Angeles.

JJ Hardy, 0 votes — As solid as they come, defensive star, hit some home runs.

Jhonny Peralta, 0 votes — Quiet, modest, played everywhere, hit balls into gaps.

Jered Weaver, 0 votes — Pitched at a Hall of Fame level for three or four years.

Jayson Werth, 0 votes — I have a Werth garden gnome. That’s something.

I sometimes have to remind myself that the majority of baseball fans — in fact, the vast majority of baseball fans — do not obsessively follow the Hall of Fame voting like some of us do. They were not tracking the rise of Scott Rolen these last few years.

2018: 10.2%
2019: 17.2%
2020: 35.3%
2021: 52.9%
2022: 63.2%
2023: 76.3% — elected to the Hall of Fame!

And because they weren’t following, many of them were (I imagine) absolutely stunned when the announcement came that only one player was elected to the Hall of Fame, and it was Scott Rolen, of all people.

Everybody here probably knows that I’m a Scott Rolen guy and have been for years, because he was a fantastic defensive third baseman and a very good hitter, and that combination is reflected in his 70.1 WAR and 300-plus Win Shares, both Hall of Fame-worthy totals.

But I want to put that aside for a moment and talk about the Hall of Fame in a different way.

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