The BBWA revealed its Hall of Fame voting results on Tuesday, and, for the second year in a row, only one player was elected: third baseman Scott Rolen.
Rolen received 76.3% support in his sixth year on the ballot, joining Fred McGriff in this year’s class of new Hall of Famers. Known as one of the best defensive third basemen of all time—and certainly of his era—he won eight Gold Glove awards during his 17-year career with seven All-Star appearances.
Rolen was perhaps an under-the-radar superstar during his career, even with Hall of Fame credentials. With that in mind, here are some things you might not know about Cooperstown’s newest resident.
Rolen started and ended his career against the Cardinals
Rolen pitched for four different franchises during his career, but is perhaps best remembered for his work as a Redbird. Four of his seven All-Star nods came while playing for St. Louis. Louis, and won the only World Series ring he won with the Cardinal in 2006. He registered his most games with the Phillies (844), with St. Louis (661), followed by the Reds (330) and the Blue Jays (203).
But while he neither began nor ended his career as a Cardinal, he did both against the Cardinals. Rolen debuted with the Phillies on August 1, 1996, playing in both legs of a doubleheader against St. Louis. He went a combined 1-for-7 with a walk, a double and two strikeouts. His final regular season game came on October 3, 2012, as Rolen’s Reds lost 1-0 at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati made the postseason that year, sweeping the Giants in the NLDS. But it’s fitting that Rolen’s career has been bookended by games against the franchise he once starred in.
Rolen turned down a Division I basketball scholarship after being drafted in 1993
Considering the athleticism he displayed with his many highlight-reel-worthy plays at third base, it may not be a matter of pride that Rolen’s talents were not limited to the baseball diamond. But it may come as a surprise to learn that as a high school senior, Rolen was runner-up in Indiana Basketball’s prestigious voting award in 1993. His talent on the hard court earned him a scholarship to play basketball. play in Georgia, although he did. he ultimately decided not to decommit after the Phillies took him in the second round of the 1993 MLB draft.
Don’t worry about young Rolen’s trophy case, though: He was voted Indiana’s Mr. Baseball.
Rolen is the last third baseman to win National League Rookie of the Year (sort of)
This one is only half true. Since Rolen won the award in 1997, three others have received the honor primarily at the hot corner: Albert Pujols (’01), Ryan Braun (’07) and Kris Bryant (’15). But all three later moved to other positions, with Pujols moving to first base and Braun and Bryant moving to left field, so Rolen is the last out. permanent third baseman to pull off the feat. Rolen is also the most recent Rookie of the Year winner to be elected into the Hall of Fame, winning the award a year after Derek Jeter in ’96.
Rolen is in rarified company when it comes to aging third basemen
Over the course of 17 seasons, Rolen played in more than 17,000 innings of defense. All of them came at third base. His elite defense allowed him to stay there that long, but his bat also aged like fine wine. He hit .285/.358/.497 in 2010 at age 35, the season in which he won his final Gold Glove award. With an OPS+ of 125, Rolen is one of 10 mLB third basemen since the early 20th century to post an adjusted OPS that was high for that age while playing in at least 100 games at the hot corner. Only one player has since achieved that feat: Adrián Beltré, who did it twice (’14 and ’16).
Rolen’s World Series resume is a testament to his perseverance
Like any player, Rolen’s career – as successful as it was – was not without struggle. Perhaps no stat reflects his resilience quite like this. Rolen appeared in two Fall Classics during his career: 2004 and ’06, both with the Cardinals. In his first outing, he went a whopping 0-for-15 as St. Louis was swept by the Red Sox. He made it up more than two years later, going 8-for-19 with four extra-base hits as the Cardinals won their first World Series title in 24 years.