While the Atlanta Braves’ Chipper Jones has been the focal point of third basemen retiring this season, Scott Rolen deserves about the same amount of fanfare as Jones. Granted, Jones announced his impending retirement at the beginning of 2012 and Rolen just announced it now, but I feel Rolen is without a doubt the most underrated player in my generation.
I really didn’t realize how good Rolen was until I took part in a game called an “all-time great redraft”. The redraft is essentially a fantasy draft using every single baseball player who has ever played with the goal of completing the best team imaginable while others vote on the best team. When I researched for my third baseman, I was stunned about how good Rolen actually was. He truly is one of the best fifteen third basemen to ever play the game, yet it seems no one even realizes it.
In terms of fWAR, Rolen ranks 11th all-time with a 75.0 career fWAR. The ten players ahead of Rolen, excluding Alex Rodriguez, are all Hall of Famers. Plus, there are a handful of players ranked below Rolen who are Hall of Famers. Yet, never have I ever heard Rolen’s name used when discussing the best players in the “Steroid Era,” if you will.
He may have never won a MVP or had a dominant stretch, but Rolen was the definition of consistent. Although Chipper was the better hitter of the two, Rolen was the complete package. The six-time gold glove winner was the real deal at third base, picking it with the best of them.
The only thing that drags down Rolen’s career numbers down were the seasons where he was injured. It’s quite clear if Rolen was healthy, he would have been just as good as Chipper was, but there were far too many injury-riddled seasons.
Nevertheless, I would say Rolen would be missed, but I think it’s a lot more believable that once again he will ride away into the sunset without no one really noticing.
Here’s to you, Scott Rolen. Congratulations on your amazing career. I sincerely hope you will have a bronzed plaque in your future.