Going by the early returns in the 2022 Hall of Fame voting, Scott Rolen is moving closer to his inevitable induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cooperstown may not call Rolen this year, but his candidacy is on a positive track.

In the mini-sample 49 votes that have been submitted to the Hall of Fame Tracker organized and monitored by Ryan Thibodaux, Rolen had a vote share of 75.5 percent as of early Tuesday afternoon. Players on the ballot must be named on 75% of recorded ballots to gain enshrinement. But with the choices made on 87% of the ballots still unknown, Rolen’s percentage is likely to fall. If that happens, he’ll still end up with a robust percentage of votes that will put him in the red zone – apologies for the football reference – at Cooperstown.

Rolen made tremendous progress last year, receiving 52.9% of the vote. That’s a huge jump from his starting point: 10.2 percent in his first year (2018), 17.2% in his second year (2019), and 35.3% in his third year (2020) before advancing to last year’s 52.9% share. This trajectory all but assures a Rolen residency in the Hall.

The only real question is, how soon? Be patient. Nitpickers are gonna nitpick. Posers are gonna pose to get attention. The insufferable “Hey Look At Me!” faction of voters is eternally proud to display their maverick streak – and embarrass themselves and the Baseball Writers Association of America. But Rolen’s case is strong, and he’ll get there. Here are some of the many reasons of why he belongs:

1) The third base position has been oddly overlooked by voters, and it makes no sense. There are 17 third basemen in the Hall; no position has fewer. Of the 17, seven got in through special-committee voters, and two were added when MLB and the Hall finally got around to recognizing Negro League legends. Here’s the ludicrous reality: The Baseball Writers Association has elected only eight third basemen since the Hall of Fame opened in 1939. That’s eight in 83 years. And that’s shameful.

I wouldn’t push or vote for Rolen if he lacked the resume. I wouldn’t concoct a case for him just because he was an outstanding St. Louis Cardinal and a member of the franchise Hall of Fame. Rolen gets the check mark from me simply because he has the credentials that make him worthy of Cooperstown. He’s an easy choice for me. The shortage of third basemen in the Hall provides another reason to vote for him.

2) Rolen won eight Gold Gloves during his 17 seasons spent with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Toronto and Cincinnati. In baseball history, only Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt have more Gold Gloves at 3B than Rolen. Rolen ranks 6th all-time among third baseman in Defensive WAR. He’s actually ahead of Schmidt, who ranks 8th. In addition, Rolen was a seven-time All-Star selection, four times as a Cardinal. He was the NL Rookie of the Year while playing for the Phillies in 1997.

3) Only Two third basemen in MLB history have a combination of 300+ home runs with at least eight Gold Gloves: Schmidt and Rolen.

4) Rolen is one of six third basemen in MLB history to have 300+ homers, an adjusted OPS of 120 or higher, with at least one Gold Glove. The other four are Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, George Brett, Chipper Jones and Ron Santo.

5) The strength of Rolen’s case is clearly identifiable for those who take the time and the diligence to include advanced metrics. Rolen’s career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 70.1 is ninth best among third basemen in MLB history.

Paul Molitor has more WAR than Rolen and is almost always listed as a third baseman, but I don’t include him for an obvious reason: Molitor started only 786 games at third base during his career. He was the starting DH for 1,176 games and started a combined 672 games at positions other than third. Molitor belongs in the Hall, but shouldn’t be classified as a third baseman.

Rolen is 9th in WAR at third base – behind only Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Wade Boggs, Adrian Beltre, George Brett, Chipper Jones, Ron Santo and Brooks Robinson. All are Hall of Famers except for Beltre, who will likely become a first-ballot selection as soon as he’s eligible. His 70.1 WAR exceeds that of multiple third baseman that were inducted in years past including Pie Traynor, Home Run Baker, Jimmy Collins, George Kell and Freddie Lindstrom.

WAR isn’t perfect, but it tells us a lot about a player’s all-around value as a hitter, fielder, runner and longevity. Fortunately, the metric has been embraced by younger, more open-minded voters who don’t view their ballot as some old-school preservation project that must be protected in defiance of information and logic.

6) Rolen is 68th in MLB history for most WAR by a position player. That’s impressive considering the thousands of position players that have competed in major league baseball. And Rolen’s 70.1 career WAR is better than 110 position players that already have been inducted – a list that includes Tim Raines, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Gwynn, Carlton Fisk, Ryan Sandberg, Eddie Murray, Pudge Rodriguez, Ernie Banks, Craig Biggio, Willie McCovey, Andre Dawson, Duke Snider, Roberto Alomar, Billy Williams, Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, George Sisler, Vladimir Guerrero, Willie Stargell, Joe Medwick, Tony Perez, Hack Wilson, Hank Greenberg, Al Simmons, Lou Brock, Ted Simmons, Dave Winfield and Mike Piazza.

7) Rolen’s 70.1 WAR is above the average (68.4) for Hall of Fame inductees at third base.

8) Rolen’s JAWS score — developed by the most excellent Jay Jaffe as the preferred go-to tool for analyzing Hall of Fame candidates — exceeds the existing average for HoF third basemen.

9) Rolen’s seven-season “peak” JAWS mark (43.6) is above the average (43.1) for Hall of Fame third basemen.

10) Excluding Rolen, during MLB’s modern era (1900-present) only six eligible position players with 70 or more WAR are still on the outside at Cooperstown: Bonds, Lou Whitaker, Bobby Grich, Rafael Palmeiro – and first-time eligibles on this year’s ballot, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz. Pete Rose had 70+ WAR but was banned by MLB for gambling on baseball games and has never been eligible to appear on the Hall of Fame ballot.

11) Rolen rates very well offensively among modern-era 3B who played at least 2,000 games at the hot corner: 6th in batting average (.281), 6th in OBP (.364), 5th in slugging (.490), 5th in OPS (.855), 6th in OPS+ (122), 6th in extra-base hits, 4th in doubles, 9th in homers and 10th in RBIs. Imagine what Rolen would have done without suffering the lingering repercussions of two shoulder injuries – not his fault – that limited his offense over the final eight or nine years of his career.

12) Over the first eight years of his career, before Rolen played with a chronically weak shoulder, he batted .287 with a .379 OBP, .524 SLG, .903 OPS and a 133 OPS+ that put him at 33% above league average offensively. Among hitters that had a minimum 3,000 plate appearances and played most of their games at third base for those eight seasons, Rolen ranked second to Chipper Jones in homers, RBIs, OBP, slugging, OPS+, and stolen bases.

I could go on, but there’s no reason to go totally bonkers here. Rolen is a Hall of Famer, and it’s not even a tough call. Hopefully he will get that Cooperstown call in early 2022 (I’d be surprised) or receive the great news in 2023.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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* Stats used in this column were sourced from Cooperstown Cred, Baseball Reference and Stathead unless otherwise noted.


Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.