1997 NL Rookie of the Year. 7 times an All Star. 8 Gold Gloves. 70.1 WAR. 122 OPS+. Mike Schmidt once said he was a superior third baseman to himself. Now, in his sixth year of eligibility, Scott Rolen pulled 76.3% of the BBWAA vote, making him the newest baseball Hall of Famer.
It’s well deserved. He’s no borderline candidate. Statistically, he’s in the top half of Hall of Fame third basemen. He will join Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff at the podium at this summer’s induction ceremony.
His being a solo selection means two players only have been selected in the last three years (David Ortiz last year and nobody in 2021)…the fewest in any three year span since the Hall opened.
lJust missing was Todd Helton in his fifth year on the ballot with 72.2% of the vote, which bodes well for next year. He is one of only 18 career .300/.400/.500 hitters and was also a three time Gold Glove winner.
Also on the brink is Billy Wagner at 68.1% in his eighth year on the ballot. An elite closer, he likely gets in next year too, or gets very, very close and then crosses the threshold in 2025–his final year of eligibility.
Gary Sheffield and Andruw Jones both made nice moves, from 40-41% to 55-58%, respectively. Sheffield was a bit of a surprise to me—not that I don’t think he deserves it, but rather because he was listed in the Mitchell Report. Next year is his last of elegibility, though, so I think he runs out of time and peaks next year in the 60-ish percent range. Jones, however, has four years of eligibility left, and crossing the 50% threshold has traditionally made eventual selection inevitable with that much eligibility remaining.
It was Jeff Kent’s final year on the ballot, and he fell short of 50%. However, I think he eventually gets in via the eras committee route.
Carlos Beltran garnered 46.5% of the vote in his inaugural year on the ballot. It was, I think, a strong showing and makes me think his involvement in the Astros’ 2017 sign stealing scandal will not keep him out of Cooperstown.
One thing I was wrong about: I had said only Beltran would be retained on the ballot from this year’s rookie class. The final tally gave Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez 10%.