Scott Rolen: A Hall of Fame debate

Former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen
Former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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Like "Beauty and the Beast," Philadelphia Phillies fans talking about and debating former third baseman Scott Rolen is seemingly a "tale as old as time."

So, with just days until the announcement of the 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame vote, we examine Rolen’s candidacy. We are on opposite sides of the fence on this one — and we dove deep into Rolen as a player and what his possible election means for Phillies fans.

Let’s hear your main argument for Scott Rolen’s Hall of Fame case.

Kevin: Did you watch Scott Rolen while he was playing and think, “Wow, there’s a Hall of Famer”? At the very beginning of his career, maybe. His 1998 season made it look like he was on the path to greatness when he hit 31 home runs and 110 RBI, and posted a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 6.7 as a 23-year-old. But then he only topped those numbers one other time for the rest of his career, instead settling in as a consistent bat but not a standout one. Interestingly, his only Silver Slugger was for the 2002 season, during which he was traded from the Phillies to the Cardinals. He was never among the best players in the league for any length of time, garnering top-15 MVP finishes just twice. And while productive in his 20s, his average season after turning 30 years old reads like this: 105 games played, .274, 11 HR, 57 RBI. Somehow he garnered four All-Star selections during that time frame, which shows you how bogus those are.

He wasn’t even as good of a hitter as Will Clark, and “Will the Thrill” got booted off the ballot in his first year of eligibility. Certainly, Rolen would have padded his stats more if his body hadn’t broken down, but the facts are the facts. He barely sputtered across the 300-homer and 2,000-hit marks. And if you want to talk about playoff performance, he went 31 for 141 (.220). It was a really good career — just not a Hall-worthy one. Also, I don’t want Cardinals fans to experience any kind of joy or satisfaction.

Eric: Scott Rolen played third base his entire career, which is a demanding position. There are only 17 third basemen in the Hall of Fame at this point. Rolen’s prime was pretty extensive. Since becoming a full-time player in 1997, he had an OPS of .800 or greater in all but three seasons through 2010, and in those seasons, he missed significant time due to injuries. Rolen was also elected to seven All-Star teams, won eight Gold Glove Awards, won a Silver Slugger in 2002, was the 1997 Rookie of the Year, and was a World Series champion in 2006.

In comparison to other third basemen already enshrined in Cooperstown, Rolen would be in the top third in doubles (517), home runs (316), slugging percentage (.490), and OPS (.855). Plus, Rolen’s defense was incredible throughout his entire career. Rolen ranked high in many offensive categories among other third basemen that played from 1997-2012. He led all third basemen in doubles and triples during that span, and he finished second in runs scored, RBI, OPS, and WAR behind Chipper Jones, who is in the Hall.

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