Scott Rolen made it clear today that he’s likely to retire after the season, which will conclude a terrific 16-year major league career. During that time, Rolen made eight All-Star teams and won eight Gold Gloves, hit over 300 home runs, and helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 2006 World Series.
Is it enough for the Hall of Fame?
My gut tells me no.
If Rolen never plays another big league game, these are his final stats:
.281/.364/.490, 2,017 hits, 517 doubles, 316 HR, 1,287 RBIs, 118 steals
Rolen hit 20 home runs in 10 different seasons and he drove in 100 runs five times. He showed good speed and everyone knows he was fantastic with the glove, winning more Gold Gloves than all but two players – Mike Schmidt and Brooks Robinson, each of whom are easily in the Hall of Fame.
Rolen plays the least-represented position in the Hall, which certainly helps his case, and he had a long enough career that he was able to make an All-Star team as recently as last year when he was 36 years old.
There are several key factors going against Rolen though. First of all, his personality won’t help his case, and while that shouldn’t be a factor, it could easily be the make or break point for a close player. He struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, missing substantial time in 1999 and 2000 as well as most of his later years.
Rolen was never dominant, earning MVP votes in just four seasons and placing higher than 14th just once. His career is most comparable – per Baseball Reference – to players like Adrian Beltre, Ron Santo, and Ken Boyer. Beltre likely won’t make the Hall of Fame, Santo just made it although his offensive success came in an extreme hitting era, and Boyer has never made it.
Rolen’s career 122 adjusted OPS is on par with players like Bill Madlock, Wes Covington, and John Romano. Those guys don’t scream Cooperstown, and even in his prime, Rolen’s adjusted OPS hovered around 130, a very good number but a figure that wouldn’t even make him the best in the league at his position.
The bottom line is that Rolen had a very, very good career and he made an impact on multiple teams. However, I think he falls a little short of the Hall of Fame and I don’t want to put him in simply because there are fewer third basemen in Cooperstown than any other position.