What merit, if any, do you see in the opposing point of view?
Eric: The fact that Rolen was injured quite a bit and missed time in a few key seasons throughout his prime, particularly 2005, 2007, and 2008 where he failed to play in even 120 games. He also did not reach some of the major milestones that writers look for when electing players to the Hall. Rolen also did not have great postseason success — batting just .220 with a .678 OPS.
Kevin: The "elephant in the room" is Rolen’s defense. He was excellent with the glove — and that might be the crucial thing that separates him from the pack. By racking up eight Gold Gloves over at the hot corner, he certainly needs to be given credit. When you add the high-level defending to his above-average offensive numbers, I can see a case. He also stuck around long enough to cross the imaginary WAR threshold that analytics people seem to love. Lastly, the entire position of third base is probably underrepresented in the Hall, so that probably opens the door a little bit wider for him.
How does being a Phillies fan color your opinion of Rolen’s candidacy?
Kevin: He just bothers me. I don’t exactly lose sleep every night over the fact that Rolen is probably headed to the Hall of Fame — it’s only about once or twice a week. Honestly, though, Rolen came up when I was an impressionable age, and I was fully onboard with him being my generation’s Mike Schmidt. I cheered for this guy for several years while the Phillies put a lousy team around him. Then, just when they started to turn the corner, his discontent was put on full display. He didn’t like Larry Bowa, the hard turf at the Vet, or anything about the organization or city.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but he never offered an apology or explanation, other than his desire to play in “baseball heaven” — St. Louis. He didn’t have the time of day for me or my team, so why should I wish him success? To be fair, the Phillies were in disarray at that point and it probably wasn’t fair to him, but he had a real opportunity and blew it by not being able to see the forest for the trees.
Eric: As a Phillies fan, I want to see as many Phillies players — whether they wear a “P” on their hat or not, get to Cooperstown as possible. Rolen had a unique departure from the Phillies, and many fans still hold a grudge against him for not signing long-term with the club before spring training of 2002. While I held resentment over this during Rolen's playing days, I am over any hard feelings I had for the guy. I think that he deserves to get in on his merits. I also like watching guys that I grew up watching get enshrined.